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Icarus Awards: Biggest & Boldest Travel Failures

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Go fly the lawless skies. It’s the Wild West of travel in our latest Icarus Awards, our weekly series celebrating the biggest and boldest travel failures.

Some of our Icarus nominees threw punches, another fired a gun, and a third courted the DEA. Read their stories, judge who flew to close to the sun, and cast your vote in the comments…

Hunting Season

Edward “E.J.” Deubler has shot many things as the former Louisiana chapter president of Safari Club International, a member of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and a national board member of Ducks Unlimited Inc., but he never planned on hunting a ticket agent. In an attempt to show that his hunting rifle was unloaded while checking it at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, Deubler accidentally fired the gun, injuring a United Airlines ticket agent. The agent was taken to the local hospital and is in stable condition. Deubler missed his planned safari vacation and has been issued a misdemeanor summons for negligent injury.

If My Friends Could See Me Now

Icarus Statue at Air Force Museum

Icarus Statue at the Air Force Museum-photo via Flickr user Dospaz

A stash of 142 ecstasy pills, about 3 grams of methamphetamine, a small quantity of ketamine and around $51,000 in cash is hardly a low-budget operation, but Steven Barry Krumholz was running it all out of his cruise ship cabin on Allure of the Seas.

On a charter billed as the “world’s largest gay cruise,” Krumholz was busted after another passenger who had been caught with drugs exposed his business. According to the other passenger, Krumholz’s “clients” could place an order before the trip and then pick up the wares while on board. Krumholz has pleaded guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when sentenced next month.

Honky Tonk Homophobia

While Dolly Parton may be a gay icon, her rainbow-loving fan base have yet to influence to the dress code at Dollywood. This month Olivier Odom was asked to reverse her T-shirt with the slogan “Marriage is so Gay” to avoid offending others while at the Tennessee theme park.

Dollywood spokesman Pete Owens released a statement to the press on Tuesday saying that Dollywood welcomes all families, but its dress code policy is to ask people with clothing or tattoos that could be considered offensive to change clothes or cover up.

At the time, Odom complied with the request but she later wrote a letter to the park asking them to implement more inclusive policies and conduct sensitivity training. Park officials are discussing the matter with Odom and her partner directly. Owens indicates that the couple’s complaints may result in a policy change. Park officials are discussing the dress code, which has been a frequent issue for park employees.

Ur’ in it all Over Again

For the second time this year, Thomas Sawyer was soaked in his own urine while being patted down by a TSA agent. In November 2010, Thomas Sawyer, a former bladder cancer patient, went to the press after his urostomy bag was dislodged during a TSA search. The story swept the Internet and mass disapproval forced TSA administrator John Pistole to issue a personal apology.

Sawyer also traveled to Washington, D.C., to give the TSA input on how screeners might better handle passengers with medical conditions. Following a second public incident, Sawyer again went to the press. In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, Sawyer said “I thought that I had really made a difference for people flying with urostomies, I really did. I’m angry this time. They can’t be training them properly.” The TSA has responded that it takes every claim seriously and that it is reviewing this incident.

Last Stop San Juan

Brothers Jonathan and Luis Baez attacked an American Airlines pilot as he tried to escort them off a flight from Miami to San Francisco. The incident began when a flight attendant noticed that 27-year-old Jonathan was passed out before take off without his seat belt. After being unable to rouse Jonathan, the pilot turned the plane around, following the protocol of not flying with severely intoxicated passengers.

When Baez woke up and was alerted to his situation, he became irate. His 29-year-old brother, Luis, threatened the pilot, reportedly saying, “When you fly to San Juan, I will have you killed.” Jonathan first punched the pilot in the face then both brothers further assaulted him.

Eventually crew members and passengers broke up the fight. Jonathan Baez was held Thursday on $9,000 bond on charges of battery and aggravated battery. Luis Baez was held on $12,500 bond on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

We’ve got no winners and five losers in this week’s Icarus awards. Whose travel fail reigns supreme? Vote here.

By Lily Kosner for

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