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The Best of the Travel Hall of Infamy: Volume II

The Globe and Mail

The fun may have been drained from travel again in 2021, but that doesn't mean we can’t laugh at the carefree days of yesteryear vacationing––when everything from mile-high exhibitionists to waffle-based buffet wars was the norm.


Read on for another best-of compilation of terrible tourism tales from more than 35 years of the Globe’s Travel Hall of Infamy Awards. Let’s hope we’re all back on the road again soon––and perhaps creating some egregious holiday havoc for future Awards!


The Unexpected Inflight Service Award

…goes to the 2018 Tokyo-bound airline passenger who felt the inevitable call of nature after drinking countless glasses of sake and champagne. But rather than lurching down the aisle to the washroom, he stood up, turned around and urinated on a man seated an impressive two rows behind. Later arrested, he claimed to have no memory of the incident––unlike the hapless wee recipient who likely now wears head-to-toe raingear on all flights.


The Never Throw in the Towel Award

…goes to the 2007 tour-bus driver who was leading a group of vacationers to an Italian beach resort. While there, his charges complained that early-rising fellow guests were using towels to claim all the poolside lounge chairs. For two mornings, the driver removed the towels and piled them in a heap near the pool. On the third day, when the other guests still didn't get the message, he carried the towels to the beach and set them all on fire.  


The Wannabe Human Buffet Award

…goes to a 2015 American holidaymaker in Cancun who capped a boozy night on the town by scaling the fence of a crocodile enclosure and hopping in for some quality time. One of the toothy crocs couldn’t believe its luck and set about the bleary-eyed visitor with all the reserve of a ravenous diner at a casino buffet. Before staff intervened, the tequila-marinated reptile-hugger was chomped several times, requiring a restorative visit to a nearby hospital. 


The Duly Restrained Passenger Award

…goes to the drunken flyer heading from Warsaw to Toronto in 2013 who, raging at being denied more booze, tried to storm the cockpit. Attendants approached the plane's largest passenger for help, only to find that he was an off-duty police officer and a goalie with Justice Hockey Canada––and that the rest of his 17-member team was also on board. The officers quickly took control and the miscreant remained as quiet as a lamb for the remainder of the flight.


The I See Dead People Award

…goes to an English rugby fan who travelled to Scotland with his father-in-law to watch a big game in 2000. The morning after, he discovered the older man dead in their hotel room. Undeterred, he dressed the corpse, pulled a baseball cap over the face and hauled it aboard the homeward-bound tour bus. Fellow passengers failed to notice their cadaverous companion, but when the fan called his wife, she alerted police who stopped the vehicle and removed the body.


The Creative Use Of Chocolate Award

…goes to a Finnish flyer, who, in 2014, was seized with a sudden urge to attend the Sochi Winter Olympics––despite being on a Cathay Pacific flight from Amsterdam to Hong Kong. Armed with a large Toblerone bar and wearing a cape fashioned from a cabin blanket, he headed for the cockpit to argue his case. Unsurprisingly, he soon found himself handcuffed to a seat. A flight attendant later recalled that the sweet-toothed curling connoisseur wasn’t especially violent, although he was wielding the nougat-studded confection “like a sword.”


The Monkey-Business Trip Award

…goes to the 2009 Croatian traveller who had to spend his birthday all alone on a business trip to Zagreb––or so he told his wife. As a nice surprise on his big day, his partner arranged a live call to his hotel room from his favourite radio station. But when a woman answered the phone, listeners heard the wife scream, “Who are you with?” The weaselly husband's reply? “Why have you done this to me? We have kids.”


The It’s Just A Tabby Award

…goes to the passenger on a 2014 sleeper train from Moscow who brought along her kitty for the ride. Listing the 50kg moggie as a domestic cat on travel documents, fellow passengers baulked when the feisty feline began––according to police reports––“running wild.” Its rattled owner locked the snarling critter in a cabin and asked staff for help with what she now admitted was a junior lion. No word on whether the whiskered one dined with or on fellow passengers in the restaurant car.


The Get A Room Award

…goes to the “former vintner and salon technician” who, on a 2013 Vegas-bound flight, felt inspired to share their love with fellow flyers. Or, as they later pleaded guilty to in court: exposing themselves and engaging in oral sex and “other acts” in full view of appalled passengers. An attendant persuaded the amorous couple to cool off during the drinks service, after which they reportedly launched into an encore. According to a newspaper report, one disgruntled passenger complained: “This is not the sex education I wanted to give my teenage sons.”


The Leggo My Eggo Or Else Award

…goes to the guests at a Michigan motel in 2015 who were lining-up for the breakfast buffet waffle-maker when someone cut to the head of the queue, triggering batter-based Armageddon. According to CBS Detroit, the muffin-chucking mutiny spread to 30 waffle-enraged guests who only calmed down when police arrived to turf them from the property. The Mason County Sheriff told reporters he was not impressed by the affair, complaining, “We had two-thirds of our road patrol tied-up on this fiasco.”


The Night to Remember Award

…goes to a 2003 newlywed man who carried his wife across the threshold of their hotel honeymoon suite in North Shields, England––only to discover a naked couple romping in their bed. Because of a computer error, the hotel had already booked the room to another just-married pair. “We wanted everything to be memorable,” said the horrified hubbie, “but instead someone was making their night one to remember––in front of us.” 


The Time To Buy A Phrasebook Award

…goes to the confused Japanese tourists in Utah who, in 2014, responded to a police call to pull-over when driving too slowly by hitting the gas. Pursued for 11km by siren-blaring cruisers, road spikes were deployed to burst their tires before gun-wielding officers confronted the hardened perps: a timid couple and their sobbing child. They later explained via a translator that when they saw the flashing lights, they tried to get out of the way as fast as possible.


The Overdressed Turkey Award

…goes to a 2015 airline passenger booked on a Glasgow-bound EasyJet flight.  Aiming to sidestep a $90 excess baggage fee, he donned every item of clothing in his second backpack––five pairs of pants, six T-shirts and four sweaters––before waddling onboard and jamming himself into a seat. Soon after takeoff, he vomited, was given oxygen and collapsed with what was later diagnosed as heat exhaustion. Paramedics who met the plane told BBC News the multilayered Michelin Man was “lucky to be alive.”

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