10 Things You Should Never Do to Catch a Plane

Few things are more self-defeating than taking extreme measures to catch a flight. An Italian man learned that lesson the hard way. According to the Daily Mail and the Italian newspaper La Stampa, a 46-year-old passenger was running late for his Alitalia flight from Turin to Rome. So he did what any harried passenger would do — if that passenger is totally insane: He allegedly called in a bomb threat, telling local police he overheard two “Arabic-speaking passengers” say they had an explosive device to delay the flight.
The “good” news: He successfully delayed the flight, alright — the plane, which was about to take off, returned to the gate. The bad news: The cops quickly determined it was a hoax and promptly arrested the passenger when he got to the airport.
He ended up missing his flight.
Watch Sid Lipsey train with Virgin America flight attendants.
As crazy as that incident was, it’s not the first time someone has called in a bomb threat to delay a plane. Last May, a 33-year-old Frenchman reportedly did the same thing. And it wasn’t even his flight: He was only trying to help out his girlfriend, who was stuck in traffic.
In both cases, the result was the same. The alleged callers face the possibility of prison, where they won’t be catching any flights for a long, long time.
Woody Allen once said 80 percent of life is just showing up. So it’s amazing that some people are so incapable of doing so on time for their flights and feel they have to resort to extreme measures to compensate for their tardiness, ignorance of airport rules, or just plain stupidity.
So let’s learn from these additional incidents involving anxious fliers. Here are 10 things you should never do just to make your flight.
10. Get naked Those TSA guards look like they’d rather be anywhere else right now. (Photo: AP Photo/Brian Reilly)
In 2012, John E. Brennan reportedly was trying to catch a flight from Portland to a business meeting in San Jose when he got held up in security. He responded to the frustration by stripping completely naked right there in the security line. He said he did so to protest the ever-invasive airport security procedures. Brennan was later acquitted of indecent exposure (the judge ruled that in Oregon, nude protests are protected speech). Yes, he won the war but he lost the battle; he missed that flight to San Jose.
9. Dress up as a pilot Spoiler alert: Leo eventually gets caught dressing up as a pilot in “Catch Me If You Can.” So will you. (Photo: AP)
Hey, it worked for Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can. Back in 2012, police arrested an Italian man who, inspired by the movie, allegedly dressed up as a pilot so he could catch flights across Europe. Police tell the Guardian the man had even set up social media profiles for his fake pilot persona (some featured pics of him in his pilot’s uniform). The man reportedly was arrested at a bar in Turin airport. Yes, he was wearing a pilot’s uniform at the time.
8. Try to flag down the plane. On the tarmac.
This past June, an Italian couple visiting Malta missed their RyanAir flight at Malta International Airport after getting stuck in traffic. So, according to the Times of Malta, the couple went to the next gate, opened the security door and ran down to the apron where the plane was waiting with its engines running. The couple then tried to signal the pilots to let them aboard — as if they were flagging down a bus driver who’d already closed the doors. The two were arrested and, despite prosecutors’ pleas for jail time, later fined. There comes a time when you should just accept that you’ve missed your flight.
7. Drink (Part II)
A 22-year-old man in Birmingham, England didn’t try to argue or force his way onto the plane to Ibiza he’d just missed. Instead, he went to an airport bar, got drunk and decided to sneak aboard an empty plane. The passenger told the Telegraph, he crawled through a conveyor belt used for checked baggage, found himself on the airfield, and walked on board an empty plane, where he got arrested. He said he did it to “prove how bad airport security is.” But we think that if you miss your plane, sneaking through an airport and causing a security breach is not the best way to go about getting rebooked on a flight.
6. Drink (Part I)
Not as bad as being caught with a gun on your person, but still bad enough to miss your flight. According to the South China Morning News, a passenger at Beijing International Airport was told she would not be allowed to board with the bottle of $200 cognac in her carry-on. (FYI, it was a bottle of Rémy Martin XO Excellence.) Wanting to catch her flight but not wanting to let her pricey hooch go to waste, the woman did the only thing she could; she downed the entire bottle — all 700 ml of it! Problem solved, right? Wrong. She was promptly deemed too drunk to fly and denied boarding. (She was found rolling on the floor at the boarding gate shouting and screaming.) We can’t condone her actions but we can secretly respect her ability to down an entire 700 ml bottle of booze in one sitting and live to tell about it.
5. Circumvent those pesky gun rules
If you’re trying to catch a flight, you might be tempted to save some time by cutting some corners. But one area where you shouldn’t involves rules about transporting your weapon. In 2013, a passenger at Orlando International Airport reportedly tried to go through security with a loaded .40-caliber pistol. According police, the passenger asked the police to “hold the gun for him so he would not miss his flight.” The police didn’t hold the gun; they held the passenger. Remember: The TSA requires your guns “must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only.” They’re kinda serious about it.
4. Get inside help
R&B singer Jeremih (Felton) definitely has some dedicated friends, but he probably could use some smarter ones. Last December at Newark Airport, Felton just missed out on boarding his U.S. Airways flight to Phoenix. But luckily (or, as it turned out, unluckily) for him, a member of his entourage who was already on the plane allegedly opened the closed jetway door to try to let Jeremih and another guy onto the plane. It didn’t work: All three were arrested. Plus, they probably learned that unlocking a cell door is a lot harder than opening a jetway.
3. Throw a tantrum
One of the easiest ways to guarantee that you not only miss your flight but get the cops called on you as well, is to throw an airport tantrum to get on your flight. According to TMZ, New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia flipped out at Newark International Airport last December after he and his party of 11 missed their flight to Jamaica. He reportedly got so heated, the cops had to calm him down. He wasn’t arrested — unlike a British guy in Abu Dhabi Airport who reportedly mouthed off and swore at airport security officials after missing his connecting flight to India this past July. Yes, missing your flight is frustrating, but you catch more flies (and flights) with honey.
2. Take an “emergency exit” shortcut
We can almost understand desperate measures to get to a high school reunion; those things only come around once a decade. But last month, a passenger looking to catch a flight for his 40th may have taken things too far, allegedly trying to chase down a plane that was about to leave without him. The incident happened at Denver International Airport. The 58-year-old man, apparently desperate for a United flight to Ohio that was about to depart reportedly opened an emergency exit at the concourse, ran onto the ramp, chased down the tug driver who was helping push back the airplane, and insisted he be allowed to board. The man was arrested instead. On the bright side, he was probably the talk of the reunion.
1. Set off a fire alarm
On the Airport Stupid Scale, this is almost as bad as calling in a bomb threat: tripping a fire alarm. In June of last year, a passenger at London City Airport arrived at the gate right as boarding closed for his British Airways flight to Frankfurt. So, according to the Guardian, the man allegedly smashed the fire alarm to open the doors to the gate. His stunt forced a 15-minute evacuation of the entire terminal. He did luck out in one way, though — since it didn’t cause a major problem, the airport opted not to prosecute. Hopefully the guy learned his lesson (and that there are lots of flights from London to Frankfurt).
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