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Travel hall of shame for 2012 Add to ...

Here are The Globe and Mail’s 28th annual Travel Hall of Infamy Awards.

The No Armrest for the Wicked Award

… goes to two men who were given seats beside each other on a WestJet flight out of Calgary. While the plane was taxiing for takeoff they started arguing over who would use their shared armrest. Verbal sparring escalated to threats and police were called to remove the combatants from the plane. The pilot refused to let them reboard, even after they admitted they were being silly. They were moved to later flights, but on separate planes.

The Smoking Gun Award

… goes to Bev Oda, who started the year as Canada’s minister for international co-operation – a.k.a. minister for aid to the world’s poor. She quit politics after a furor over her expenses at a London conference. Not only did she move from the delegates hotel to the luxurious Savoy at more than double the price, she billed taxpayers $1,000 a day for a car and chauffeur, plus $16 for a glass of orange juice. Opposition charges that she changed hotels to get a smoking room were never proved. But it was later revealed that on an earlier trip to Washington she was assessed a $250 (U.S.) penalty for lighting up in a non-smoking hotel room (which also showed up on her expense account).

The Blow Me Down Award

… goes to thrill-seeking tourists on St. Martin’s Maho Beach who delight in clinging to the fence outside the international airport while zooming jets land and take off. Those who do battle with winds of more than 100 kilometres an hour aren’t always successful. One hapless French man suffered a broken leg. And a YouTube video showed a teenage girl flying headfirst into a concrete barrier. Still, the nearby Sunset Bar offers encouragement by posting flight times and pouring a Jet Blast shot for survivors. Reviewing the bar on TripAdvisor, one traveller calls it a “great place to watch crazy people.”

The Writing is on the Wall Award

… goes to Mathew Davis, a British Airways steward who hoped to win a promotion by performing calmly in a crisis. During a flight to Tokyo from London, he scribbled a bomb threat on the back of a toilet door, then alerted fellow crew members. After the plane had landed safely, the captain asked Davis to submit a written report on the incident. His handwriting matched that on the door. He was fired, arrested and sent to jail.

The Read the Fine Print Award

… goes to a police officer in Stoke-on-Kent, England, who thought he had discovered a gang of illegal immigrants. He detained four men for questioning after studying their passports and determining they all shared the same name: Abu Dhabi. The men were eventually released after a fellow officer realized Abu Dhabi was not their name, but the point of origin for their flight. The first policeman blamed his mistake on having forgotten his reading glasses.

The Go Fly a Kite Award

… goes to British billionaire Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways. On a trip to Vancouver to launch new flights to London, he met with B.C. Premier Christy Clark and invited her to go kitesurfing with him. On a blog posted later, he added that she would have to be naked. The Premier called his remarks disrespectful. “Someone said to me as a joke,” she quipped, “that if that’s his best pickup line, then maybe there’s a reason he called his company Virgin.”

The Make Yourself at Home Award

… goes to two women in Stockholm who innocently rented out their apartment through the website Airbnb while on a four-week vacation. They returned to find a note from police saying the premises had been raided the previous evening. The temporary tenants, it turned out, were prostitutes from Ireland who had converted the unit into a brothel. Airbnb put up the rightful occupants in a luxury hotel while having the apartment professionally cleansed.

The Juiced Up Award

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