Say what? While there’s no convention for the latter (yet), the predilection for boarding planes sans ticket now has a standard bearer (and possible keynote speaker?) in Marilyn Hartman (pictured). According to news reports, Hartman, 64, was arrested at Chicago O'Hare International Airport recently after she was found in a restricted area without a ticket and with no legitimate reason for being there. Police charged her with misdemeanour criminal trespass and ordered her to appear in court on May 29.
The retired legal secretary has been arrested several times for attempting to stow away on flights – and has occasionally succeeded. Last year, for instance, she was jailed for sneaking onto a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to Los Angeles. (Which raises the question: Why would anyone want to sneak onto a Southwest Airlines flight? She must really be nuts.)
Hartman gets points for the frequency of her stowaway attempts, but loses points for style. Loitering in a departure lounge may be effective, but it lacks the freaky creativity of these three incidents:
Disguise in the skies: Airline passengers are told what to do if the cabin pressure drops or if a plane ditches in water, but what's the protocol for someone taking their face off? In 2010, an unnamed 20-something Asian man reportedly boarded an Air Canada 747 in Hong Kong disguised as an elderly Caucasian male. His disconcertingly realistic prosthetic mask (picture below) tricked staff at the gate — a 55-year-old American accomplice switched boarding passes with him — but flight attendants were apparently tipped off by his youthful hands en route to Vancouver. When questioned, he went into the bathroom and removed the outfit, emerging as a (presumably sweaty) refugee claimant and pulling the plug on what the Canada Border Services Agency called an “unbelievable case of concealment.”
Dead on departure: Even the bumbling duo in the Weekend at Bernie's movies never tried to get the titular corpse (pictured below) onto a commercial airliner. But that's just what Gitta Jarant and daughter Anke Anusic reportedly tried to do with the deceased body of Jarant’s 91-year-old husband, Kurt Willi Jarant, on their way to Berlin from Liverpool, England, in April, 2010. The women brought Kurt to John Lennon International in a wheelchair — and sporting sunglasses, of course — and when questioned about his condition claimed he was just sleeping (Monty Python fans will mention a dead parrot right about now). The women were arrested for failing to report a death — they were suspecting of trying to circumvent the costs associated with transporting a body — but authorities eventually decided not to prosecute.
Wheel well wonder: Lastly, there are the increasingly frequent, and often tragic, cases of stowaways who hide in the wheel wells of aircraft. An especially miraculous case took place last year, when a teenaged runaway survived a five-hour flight from California to Hawaii. The 16-year-old Californian lad apparently passed out before temperatures in the wheel well plunged below minus 60 degrees – a.k.a. a warm February afternoon in Winnipeg – but regained consciousness about an hour after touchdown in Maui, where he was spotted by ground crews on the tarmac. There was no word on whether he had to pay for any of blankets he received…