… goes to passengers on a Comtel flight bound from India to Birmingham, England. At a scheduled refuelling stop in Vienna, they were given bad news. The carrier didn't have the £24,000 (about $38,600) needed for the fill-up. Their only choice if they wanted to reach their destination was to pass the hat. Those with empty wallets were escorted into the terminal to make ATM withdrawals.
The Unsocial Network Award
… goes to Qantas Airlines. It hoped to build goodwill when it launched a contest on Twitter. But the timing was bad. The carrier was in the middle of a nasty labour dispute and had just come out of a system-wide shutdown. Instead of the anticipated warm, fuzzy messages, it was bombarded with complaints and criticisms. Media experts called it the greatest PR failure in Australian history.
The This Too Will Pass Award
… goes to three men from Nigeria who flew into Washington Dulles Airport on separate days over a three-month period. Each was pulled over for secondary questioning at customs because of suspicious answers to questions and obviously distended stomachs. All were given X-rays, which revealed something foreign in their abdomens. Eventually, in custody, the men passed a total of 285 pellets of heroin with a total street value of $354,000 (U.S.). They won't be flying back to Nigeria soon.
The Please Remain Seated Award
… goes to Air India, which turned a minor weather problem into a frustrating ordeal for more than 200 London-bound passengers. Because of fog at Heathrow, the aircraft was diverted 70 kilometres away to another London airport, Gatwick. Presumably the airline could have let the passengers off to find their own way to London, or alternately transported them to Heathrow by train or bus. Instead, it kept them trapped on the plane for nine hours without any food. Here are some of the excuses provided by the carrier: No food was available because Air India's caterers are at Heathrow. A new flight crew had to be brought in from Heathrow because the original staff had worked their maximum hours. The new crew got lost en route.
The Taught By a Master Award
… goes to Poison rocker Bret Michaels, who took credit for actor Charlie Sheen's bad behaviour. Michaels claimed he taught the former star of Two and a Half Men how to wreck a hotel room. Sheen wasn't doing a good job at first, Michaels told Access Hollywood. “I said, ‘You gotta really let it out, man! You gotta let it out and bust this stuff.' “
The Bedtime Stories Award
… goes to Material Girl Madonna, who doesn't like sleeping where others have slept. Before checking into Berlin's trendy Soho House with boyfriend Brahim Zaibat, she insisted that her room be repainted and outfitted with new furniture. She also demanded 50 bottles of Kabbalah water for her entourage. The cost to the hotel – which had been open less than a year – was more than $20,000.
The Back of the Bus Award
… goes to the New Zealand bus driver who barred entry to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He said she couldn't come on board with the other national leaders – all of them men – who were attending a Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland. Instead, he told her, she was supposed to take the following bus for wives.
The Boys Will Be Boys Award
… goes to a male Virgin Blue flight attendant who decided to join in a family's midair game. A father and 17-month-old son were amusing themselves playing peek-a-boo, but the steward must have thought it was hide-and-seek. He picked up the toddler, placed him in an overhead luggage bin and closed the latch. The airline fired him.
The Take a Stand Award