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The Year of Infamy

Bad trips Add to ...

The Best Performance in a Leaving Role Award … to a Chinese woman who missed her flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. One might say she was a little upset. She charged a security guard, screamed "Aieyyahhhhh!" at the top of her lungs, then sprawled to the ground wailing. Someone posted her three minutes of hysterics on YouTube. Within days, the "woman going insane after missing her flight video" had more than 400,000 hits.

The Employee of the Month Award … to a Florida woman who tried to make amends after arriving late for work. Because of her tardiness, her boss was late setting out to catch his American Airlines flight to Honduras. Fearing he would miss the plane, she allegedly phoned a bomb threat to Miami International Airport, then followed it up with an e-mail. Police tracked her down using her IP address and put her under arrest. The boss arrived in plenty of time; the flight was delayed for hours while authorities conducted a search.

The No Cans in the Can Award … to an inebriated 23-year-old man with a powerful thirst. On an Air Canada Jazz flight from Vancouver to Fort McMurray, Alta., he stole some beer from the beverage trolley, then tried to hide the evidence by flushing the empty cans down the toilet. The pilot made an unscheduled stop in Kelowna, B.C. where Mounties led the passenger away in handcuffs.

The Destination Wedding Award … to German sweethearts Mika and Anna-Lena, who planned to elope and get married in Africa. They set out in the early hours of New Year's Day, accompanied by Anna-Lena's sister, Anna-Bell. Their suitcases were stuffed with summer clothes and swimsuits. But police foiled their plans after spotting them waiting for an airport train at a Hanover station. They were returned to their parents, who had no idea what they were up to. Mika was 6, Anna-Lena 5 and accomplice Anna-Bell 7.

The Flying on Empty Award … to Japan's All Nippon Airways. In an effort to reduce weight and save fuel, it asked passengers to relieve themselves before boarding. If half its fliers complied during a 30-day experiment, the airline estimated it could cut its carbon emissions by 4.2 tonnes. And that's no piddling amount.

The Lost in Translation Award … to Aer Lingus, which mistakenly played the wrong prerecorded message on a flight from Dublin to Paris. English passengers heard the correct version, which asked everyone to return to their seats because of turbulence. But the French message, which followed, said the plane was about to ditch into the Irish Sea. "The woman behind me was crying," said one English-speaking passenger. "All the French totally freaked out."

The Up in the Air Award … to Richard and Mayumi Heene. The couple held global television viewers in suspense for five hours while their son Falcon supposedly floated over Colorado in a runaway balloon. But his journey never took place. There was relief worldwide when the 6-year-old was discovered hiding in the family attic. The parents later pleaded guilty to hoax-related charges after Falcon ratted them out. During a live interview with CNN, he admitted, "We did this for a show."

The Please Bear with Me Award … to budget carrier easyJet, which refused to let 6-year-old Alba Peris carry her teddy bear on board. Because she had put it in a plastic bag to protect it from rain, it was deemed to be "excessive baggage." Little Alba shuddered at the thought of her beloved Bebe making the journey in "the big, dark hold." So her mother mailed the bear home. The airline later apologized and offered to pay for the postage.

The Family That Preys Together Award … to Matthew Allen Eaton and his wife, Laura, who brought their children along on trips to a number of U.S. states. The kids made good decoys, the couple told "Dr. Phil" McGraw on national television, while the parents were shoplifting toys and other items. The Eatons collected up to $1-million selling the loot on the Internet over seven years, they confessed blithely. The couple were later charged with moving stolen goods across state lines."

The Women Are from Mars Award … to Miyuki Hatoyama, the wife of Japan's recently elected Prime Minister. Her tale of a trip to Venus 20 years ago is featured in her book Most BizarreThings I've Encountered . "While my body was asleep," she wrote, "I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus. It was a very beautiful place, and it was very green." Her husband at the time told her it was probably a dream. As for current hubby, PM Yukio Hatoyama, "He would surely say, 'Oh, that's great,'" she wrote.

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