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The 2018 Travel Hall of Infamy Awards

Globe and Mail

There was no shortage of travellers who forgot to pack their brain cells when they hit the road in 2018. From misguided marriage proposers to lion-patting Serengeti visitors, John Lee rolls his eyes with rest of us as he anoints this year’s terrible trippers in our 34th annual Travel Hall of Infamy Awards.


The World’s Busiest Man Award

…goes to the watch-tappingly impatient passenger on the just-landed Ryanair Malaga flight who was so sick of waiting to deplane while passengers ahead of him moved slower than a gaggle of elderly tortoises, that he grabbed his backpack, popped the emergency exit and jumped onto the wing. Unfortunately, that’s when his improvised timesaving wheeze came unstuck: there’s no obvious way down from there, except to head back into the plane (which he did at the captain’s urgent insistence). Police arrived for a little chat with the oh-so-busy fella, further slowing the deplaning process for all.


The Lightheaded Lover Award

…goes to Texan Joshua Mason who aimed for a breathtaking marriage proposal that girlfriend Katie Davis would never forget. Unfortunately, he took the breathtaking part too literally. Hitting Colorado’s Jasper Peak, the pair hiked for 12 kilometres before Mason eventually found the perfect lofty spot to pop the surprise question. But after a tearful acceptance, the couple––sans gear or water––quickly realized they were lost. A nearby camper suspected altitude sickness with rescuers finally arriving at 4:30 a.m. to evacuate them. And the future honeymoon? We’re guessing Davis took charge of those plans.


The I in Instagram Award

…goes to the brawling mass of non-civilization at Rome’s iconic Trevi fountain, who were so aggressively keen to snap the best selfies anyone had ever seen at the rarely photographed monument (just kidding), that they began fighting over the finest camera angles. Trouble started when two pout-ready women began pushing each other around, eventually embroiling half-a-dozen others in their photo-based fisticuffs. A pair of police officers soon arrived, quickly summoning backup when the irate Instagrammers refused to relent. Perhaps the fountain should have its own water canon setting…


The Lion (Almost) Bites Back Award

…goes to the tourist at Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park who was so enamoured of the cuddly-looking big cats standing beside his tour truck window that he reached out to pet the nearest one. The extravagantly maned 400-pound male didn’t initially react––perhaps not used to having his ears scritched by a potential entrée––but he soon bared his razor-sharp teeth and released an Aslan-like roar. A ranger later told journalists the tourist could have been pulled from the window and eaten in front of his friends––which would have put a bit of damper on the vacation.


The Painfully Interactive Art Award

…goes to the Italian visitor at a gallery installation in Porto, Portugal who was so mesmerized by Anish Kapoor’s work Descent into Limbo––a 2.5-metre-deep hole in the floor illustrating the artist’s fascination with the void (of course)––that he forgot all about the multiple warning signs and the explicitly–worded waiver he’d signed and plunged straight into the gaping aperture. The ardent art fan was later released from hospital but there was no word on whether the work would be crammed with cushions to ensure the safety of future visitors lured to the void like moths to a lamp.


The Michelin Man Packing Award

…goes to wannabe British Airways passenger Ryan Carney Williams who tried sidestepping excess baggage fees on his flight from Keflavik (Iceland) by wearing all his clothes. Donning eight pairs of underwear and 10 shirts, the suspiciously lumpy twentysomething waddled to the gate only to be refused boarding, triggering an altercation with airport security. He later tried the same sartorial mash-up with EasyJet, prompting a similar rebuttal. Claiming “racial profiling” in his Tweets––rather than the more accurate “idiot profiling”––Williams eventually made it home via an alternate airline that presumably didn’t mind him looking like a walking laundry pile.


The Unruly Fairy Award

…goes to the Tinkerbell-costumed male passenger onboard the ready-for-departure flight to Krakow at London Stansted Airport who cabin crew said was being disruptive and delaying takeoff. Presumably that meant he was spreading fairy dust or perhaps flitting around the cabin searching for Peter Pan. Either way, armed police arrived to have a stern, Hook-like word and––according to a BBC report––one of them even found time to “adjust his wings.” A fellow passenger took to Twitter to describe the comparatively good conduct of Tink’s travelling companion––“an exceptionally well-behaved Bob the Builder”––but both were soon escorted from the flight.


The Cling On Carry On Award

…goes to the dogged train passenger in southern China’s Dongguan Railway Station who was so keen not to let her handbag out of her sight––that’s what happens when you only have one Rolo left in there––that she climbed into the X-ray machine alongside it and passed through the conveyor belt to the other side of the security check. Screen images show the stiletto-heeled woman (in all her skeletal glory) kneeling alongside her purse, presumably ready to fend off any assailants lurking in there who might snag her secret candy stash.


The Just a Little Further Award

…goes to the Estonian tourist who was enjoying a libation-heavy night out in Italian ski resort Valle d’Aosta when bedtime suddenly beckoned. Hitting the snowy streets, he trudged toward where he thought his hotel was, hazily ignoring the unexpectedly steep terrain. Focusing on his feet, he kept moving, perhaps lured by the prospect of some late-night mini-bar Pringles. Unfortunately, the incline was actually a ski run and, by 3 a.m., he’d reached a deserted mountaintop. Luckily spotting a lodge and breaking in, staff found him there the next day, curled on a bench and surrounded by empty water bottles.


The Doodle Don’t Award

…goes to the Japan-bound Finnair passenger at Zurich International Airport who decided to express his love for his lady by writing the Thai word “duang”––meaning “sweetheart”––between the first and last names on her boarding pass. Her dewy eyes likely turned to a steely glare, though, when check-in was refused because the amorously adapted name didn’t match her passport. Too late for ticket changes, she had to buy a new one for the next day. Due to their extended check-in remonstrations, her partner (and a third travel companion) also missed the flight and had to re-book, landing a hefty and entirely avoidable bill. The moral? Don’t scrawl on boarding passes and only date people with more than half a brain.


The Sight for Sore Eyes Award

…goes to Norwegian Green Party politician Svein Ingvald Opdal who found a novel way to protest the cruise ship tourist masses he felt were ruining the small seaside village where they were disembarking: he stripped naked and flashed the next mega-boat that sailed in. The sprightly 71-year-old’s slightly wrinkly stunt was photographed by his wife, with the image of the hands-on-hips willy-waggler quickly going viral on social media. No word on what the passengers thought of their unusual ‘greeting’ but it may have been more entertaining than the Celine Dion and Barry Manilow tribute acts in the cabaret lounge that night.


The Best Laid Plans Award

…goes to Colorado couple Tanner Broadwell and Nikki Walsh who sold everything to buy a boat and sail the world. Launching from Florida with pug dog Remy, they headed for the Caribbean, glossing over the fact that no one on board (Remy included) had any significant sailing experience. Their bucket list quest took a slight a dent on day two, though, when the vessel struck a sandbar, filled with water and rapidly sank. All three were rescued, while their supplies drifted away on the briny. Telling the Tampa Bay Times they’d lost everything, the insurance-deficient pair weren’t quite ready to bail: “We can’t just give up on our dreams,” said a somewhat damp Walsh.


The Sweariest Monk Award

…goes to devout Japan-based Buddhist priest Daniel Kimura who graciously took the time to reply to tourists posting online reviews of the guesthouse at the temple where he resides. One post complaining about basic meals was met with the response “If you are that interested in a monk’s life you should shave your head and be one.” Another was a little more direct: “Yeah, it’s Japanese monastic cuisine you uneducated f***.” Later telling the Guardian he regretted swearing, Kimura admitted he sometimes feels impatient with unprepared visitors. No sh*t!


The Unexpected Inflight Service Award

…goes to the Tokyo-bound All Nippon Airlines passenger who, after dinking four glasses of champagne and some sake, felt the inevitable call of nature. But rather than lurching down the aisle to the washroom, he stood up in his seat, turned around and proceeded to urinate on a man seated an impressive two rows behind. Restrained by attendants and later arrested, he claimed to have no memory of the incident, which is more than can be said for the hapless wee recipient who will no doubt be wearing head-to-toe raingear for all future flights.


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