Top Five Worst Travel Stories of the Week

Worst Travel Week Ever

Insanity reigned last week, and not just in the air travel industry: Perhaps you heard that the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was stepping down. Only it turned out, he wasn't. It didn't seem to matter that this "breaking news" story originated with a celebrity gossip site best known for its in-depth OctoMom coverage. People believed it.

So I was particularly amused at how absurd some of last week's true tales sounded. You know, the bizarre incidents involving fake pilots, child controllers and more. But true they were. Which begs the question: Was there something in the water last week? Something in those complimentary packs of peanuts?

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Let's examine some of the craziness before we return to the normal; or as I call it, the "full upright position." What follows are, in my opinion, the Top Five Worst Travel Incidents in a Single Week. As a bonus, there is one honorable mention, and I provide an upside to each incident.

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#1: The Make-Believe Pilot

A 41-year-old pilot from the Netherlands was arrested in the cockpit of his 737 as he was about to take off for Ankara with more than 100 passengers on board, because he was a fake. He is accused of passing himself off as a commercial pilot, but his license was reportedly a complete sham.

How'd he get away with it? The head of the Dutch Airline Pilots Association said, "It's a bit like a driving license -- it doesn't normally get checked unless you do something wrong." And that's supposed to make us feel better?

Upside: Mr. Fake Pilot wasn't completely clueless; licensed or not, he reportedly had been piloting passenger planes for a variety of European airlines for the past 13 years.

#2: Coffee, Tea or Whatever?

Before you open your mouth, yes, I know flight attendants are wonderful, hard working people who don't get paid enough, but please, I didn't make this up: it seems Japanese "role-playing" clubs (uh, yes, these are for adults only, if you get my drift) will pay top dollar for authentic flight attendant uniforms.

The folks here at ABC News even reported on a Japanese club that looks like an airline, complete with first class and business class seating, as well as faux-flight-attendant "hostesses." Anyway, Japan Airlines, which is laying off 400 cabin crew members, has been quick to say flight attendant uniforms are owned by the company, and must be returned.

Upside: Apparently, some of those flight attendant uniforms do make their way to online auction sites, with price tags in the thousands of dollars; a nice little severance package, perhaps, for a newly unemployed cabin crew member.

#3: Kids Say the Darndest Things

They do indeed, but I don't think the old Art Linkletter show ever featured a youngster at JFK's air traffic control tower, saying, "JetBlue 171, you are cleared for takeoff." The boy's father, an air traffic controller who apparently couldn't find a sitter, has been placed on administrative leave.

Upside: At least this air traffic controller was no sexist; before this story broke, he allegedly took his little girl to work the next day and let her play controller, too.

#4: Airplane Art

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