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The Year of Infamy

Bad trips Add to ...

The Bad Habits Award … to members of a Bristol, England, soccer club. On previous group trips, the men had dressed up as St. Trinian's schoolgirls in Portugal and babies in Cyprus. But their luck ran out when they showed up in a bar in the Greek island of Crete, outfitted as sexy nuns in lingerie and wimples. They were charged with "causing a scandal by provocative acts and misrepresenting a uniform." The British Embassy arranged their release, but not until they had spent nearly 48 hours in a cramped cell - still in costume.

The 'How Long Can You Hold It?' Award … to a New Brunswick woman who told police she had been kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to drive to Toronto. Her captor never left the vehicle, she claimed. But when police became suspicious, she admitted the story was false and that she had made the trip on her own for personal reasons. It was RCMP Sergeant David Vautour who first cast doubt on the original tale of a harrowing journey. "I don't know any man," he said, "who can spend 17 hours without a pee."

The Noah's Ark Award … to a menagerie of creatures that added extra hours to air passengers' journeys. Delta Airlines unloaded passengers prior to two separate transatlantic flights on the same 767 because of a mouse cavorting in the cabin. British Airways cancelled a flight for fumigation after a passenger reported seeing a tarantula crawling between his legs. Korean Airlines delayed a takeoff so crew members could catch a sparrow flitting about the cabin. And a runway at New York's busy Kennedy Airport was closed for 45 minutes to allow the removal of 78 diamondback terrapin turtles that had moseyed in from the water.

The Don't Leave Home Without It Award … to passengers who blithely tried to carry illegal items aboard their flights. Among belongings confiscated by security agents at three New York airports were: a live baby alligator, a gassed-up chain saw, a two-metre6-foot-long African spear, a sword, drills, baseball bats, a shower rod, rodeo whips, fire extinguishers, 10-point deer antlers, a fully loaded 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun - and even a kitchen sink.

The No Country for Old Men Award … to two German seniors who changed out of wet and soiled clothes in full public view at a Brazilian airport. Responding to complaints, Salvador police questioned the men for two hours before releasing them to catch their flight. The men told the officers they thought it "was normal" to change clothes openly in Brazil, especially in a city with a beach.

The Fool and His Money Award … to a German pensioner who drove away from a service station forgetting he had placed a packet with a large amount of cash on his car's hood. Realizing his mistake, he asked a policeman to help him search the roadside bushes. The good news is that they recovered almost all the currency. The bad news is they also found a receipt showing he had withdrawn the money from a bank in Luxembourg, something he had not reported on returning to his home country. The helpful policeman notified the customs authorities.

The So You Think You Can Fly Award … to pilots at four airlines who were given suspensions. At Northwest Airlines, two pilots were grounded for over-flying their destination by 240 kilometres. They told investigators they became distracted discussing company policy. United Airlines suspended a pilot after he was arrested in London for allegedly showing up drunk to fly a Boeing 767 with 124 passengers. Air India suspended two pilots and two crew members following a mid-air scuffle that spilled into the passenger cabin. And Delta clipped the wings of a pilot charged with attempting to run down police officers with his private plane.

The Up the River without a Paddle Award … to Demetrius Jones. Just days before his third birthday, the B.C. toddler drove away from his family's campsite in his battery-operated toy truck, dressed only in a diaper, T-shirt and sneakers. He manoeuvred the vehicle into the turbulent waters of the Peace River and floated merrily past log jams for 12 kilometres. Even when the vehicle turned over, he clung nonchalantly to the upturned axle. Following his rescue by police, he told his grandmother he wanted to go back on his "boat."

Special to The Globe and Mail

Sources: Agence France-Presse, Airwise News, Anna Mehler Paperny, Asian News International, Associated Press, Ananova, Caroline Alphonso, Canadian Press, CBS, Jill Colvin, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Online Travel Review, People Magazine, Reuters, Scottish Daily Record, Sky News, Sunday Age, The Independent, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, Travel Mole

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