Diamondback Terrapin turtles shut down JFK airport

Well, there go all our anti-terror measures. Forget dangerous bottled water, or nail clippers – all it takes to shut down an airport is a bunch of lost turtles.

Yesterday morning, 78 of them decided to leave the bay and crawl onto an active taxiway. When an American Eagle flight noticed them, they notified the tower and the FAA halted all traffic for about 12 minutes.

It took a crew 35 minutes to gather up all the turtles and give the all clear for flights to resume.

What surprises me the most, is that this is apparently a fairly common thing – jets hit turtles several times a year at JFK. Surely a small fence could prevent the turtles from causing havoc at the airport? It’s one thing to be delayed due to bad weather, but to sit in a plane awaiting a departure slot because of turtles is just insulting.

The halted flights and clean up caused delays of up to an hour and a half, which is a pretty miserable way to start your vacation (if you were so lucky to be heading somewhere nice).

Seven mile airport van ride from hell ends with guns pulled

In what is probably one of the worst ways to start your trip in the United States, five French tourists took a seven mile ride through several New York neighborhoods while being chased by cops.

The tourists just arrived at JFK and had been directed towards a waiting van for hire by a “steerer”, who waits for unsuspecting tourists arriving at the airport, sending them to unauthorized taxi cabs and vans.

When cops spotted the steerer, they tried to apprehend him and his driver, but upon approaching the van, the driver floored it and drove away.

The van took cops on a 7 mile chase through New York, though they were finally able to arrest the driver and his accomplice after their van hit a gate at a USPS facility.

One police officer was injured when he tried to grab the keys out of the speeding van and one passenger hurt her arm when she tried to climb out of the moving van.

The big lesson here is to pay attention to all those annoying warning messages at the airport to avoid unauthorized transportation services, and to stick to pre-arranged car services and the official taxi line.

Delta passenger busts open exit door at JFK

Every passenger stuck on the ground fantasizes about busting open the door and liberating people on the plane. For me, it usually involves the battle cry, “I GRANT YOU FREEDOM!!!” Of course, I’m no Robert McDonald. He acted on these urges during a delay at John F. Kennedy International Airport (yep, no surprise there).

The Glasgow, Scotland resident was charged with reckless and endangerment and criminal tampering for his shenanigans, which involved opening the emergency exit hatch. The cabin crew stopped McDonald before he could open the door enough to activate the emergency chute.

Delta Flight 149, which had just come from Rome and was to finish in Las Vegas, was stuck on the tarmac for close to three hours when the angry Scot had had enough. Local District Attorney Richard Brown offered a “no shit” explanation that highlights the benefits of a top legal education: “Apparently, the defendant wanted to get off the plane,” District Attorney Richard Brown said, “so he opened the emergency exit door.”

Ultimately, McDonald’s act of defiance ruined the evening for the 146 passengers on Flight 149. McDonald, who is 60 years old, risks spending the next one in prison if he’s convicted.

March “lion” slams east coast

From New Hampshire to the Carolinas, March came in, as the saying goes, like a lion. Snow, sleet and wind gusts reaching 30 mph have lead to for motor vehicle deaths, school closings and chaos at airports.

More than 900 flights have been canceled at New York area airports (JFK, Newark and LaGuardia). Hundreds more at Logan International Airport in Boston never left the ground, where the airport closed for more than half an hour to clear a runway. In Philadelphia, more than 40 people were stranded overnight.

Even the bus operators got into the delay and cancellation game. Greyhound and Peter Pan scrapped trips into and out of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

So, get comfortable. It’s going to take a while to sort this mess out.

Heathrow annoying, Americans rude according to some social network

The members of social network Where Are you Now? have spoken! Heathrow is the worst airport in the world, according to voters, thanks to passport control lines and baggage problems. The Brits don’t get all the glory, though. JFK in New York and Los Angeles picked up spots #2 and #3, respectively.

The good news, for Heathrow and JFK, at least, is that both were at the top of the list for security. Bangkok, Amsterdam and Rome were at the bottom. WAYN co-founder and joint chief executive Jerome Touze calls the survey results “pretty damning in terms of Heathrow’s reputation for passenger service.” Apparently, he doesn’t realize nobody gives a shit about WAYN’s opinion.

But, Heathrow is worth the wait, with the friendliest passport control officers outside Australia. They’re even nicer than the Canadians! U.S. customs officers were voted rudest, followed by those in India and Russia.

Again thinking that people give a damn about his opinion, Touze believes that “U.S. customs and immigration need address their attitude towards visitors, simplify the form filling, generally be a lot more welcoming and better reflect the personality of the American people.”

Thanks, Jerome. Because of your publicist prompted quote, we’ll get right on that.

WAYN’s survey included detail from 2,250 air travelers, who answered questions about customs, baggage handling and passport matters.

[Via Sydney Morning Herald]

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