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Damaged luggage? That's nothing compared with the top travel horror stories 2010. (Digital Vision./iStockphoto)
Damaged luggage? That's nothing compared with the top travel horror stories 2010. (Digital Vision./iStockphoto)

Pat-downs, screw-ups and Steven Slater: The 2010 Travel Hall of Infamy Awards Add to ...

The Ruffling Feathers Award to a New Zealand tour operator who paid French and Israeli backpackers to entertain cruise passengers by impersonating Maori. The imposters wore feathered robes and painted their faces with fake tattoos. Company director Terina Puriri, herself Maori, said she had no choice because local Maori were lazy. The Tauranga port authority disagreed and banned the company from its property.

The At Least There Was A Bed Award to unfortunate guests who posted these hotel horror stories on Trip Advisor: "Drunk people sleep right outside our room lying in the hallway." "The robber had a key to all the rooms and they somehow knew how to get into the safe." "Flooded by sewage overflow twice in the five days that we were there." "[The lobby clerk]shoved the couch … into my luggage … broke a bottle of alcohol into my bag and ruined my camera." "A male cleaner knocking on my door at 6.30 a. m. to say hello … and ask if he could wash his face in my sink."

The Great Hisscape Award to Anson Wong whose bag burst open on a conveyor belt at Kuala Lumpur airport. Staff alerted police, and the Malaysian man ended up with a six-month jail sentence for attempting to smuggle contraband into Indonesia. It consisted of one matamata turtle, two rhinoceros vipers and 95 boa constrictors.

The No Detail Too Small Award to the Russian city of Omsk, which went out of its way not to offend Dmitry Medvedev during an official visit. Because the country's president is only 5 foot 4, local officials removed posters for a children's theatre show that read: "We await you, merry gnome."

The Groin And Bear It Award to Michael Ignatieff, Liberal Leader and frequent flier. He put an end to discussion of pat-downs by airport security with this conversation stopper: "I have people touching my private parts all day long."

The Fine Kettle Of Fish Award to tourists for causing such havoc at Tokyo's early-morning fish market that it had to be closed to visitors for a month. Traders complained that flashing cameras obscured their hand signals during bidding. Even worse, drunks leaving nightclubs were embracing and kissing the tuna.

The None So Blind As Those Who Cannot See Award to United Airlines flight attendants who forgot about a blind passenger, Jessica Cabot of Courtenay, B.C., after her flight landed in Chicago. As the woman waited patiently to be assisted off the plane, she heard the door seal shut. Luckily, maintenance workers rescued her 10 minutes later. Offering an apology, a United spokeswoman said Ms. Cabot had been overlooked because she was "a tiny girl." "Does that mean," Ms. Cabot asked, "if you're short they're not responsible?"

The Booby Prize Award to model Irene Ferrari, reportedly the bearer of Russia's largest silicon breasts. She sued Swiss International Air Lines for $121,000 (U.S.) in restitution after her left breast hit the seat in front during midair turbulence. According to her lawyer, she earlier won a similar suit against an unnamed airline because one of her breasts exploded on landing.

The Caught With His Pants Down Award to a male employee at the Hyatt hotel in Deerfield, Ill., who made Dayanara Fernandez's stay a drag. The woman walked into her room to discover the man playing dress-up with one of her skirts, a pair of high heels and her underwear. "Me like, me like," he told her. After changing in the bathroom, he left saying, "Don't tell, don't tell." She did. He was arrested and fined. Ms. Fernandez is suing Hyatt Corp.

The You Can't Please Everyone Award to finicky travellers who posted their disappointments on the Australian version of travel.com. One person complained that there weren't enough kangaroos in Sydney, while another bellyached about too few English-speaking people in Europe. One woman was furious when she found the $10 Gucci bag she bought in China was a fake. Most surprisingly, one man griped about his airline seat being so comfortable he fell asleep when he wanted to stay awake.

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