One of our recent articles — 7 Ways To Get Banned From Flying — told how United passenger Chris Roberts tweeted his intention to hack into his aircraft’s flight computers. Once alerted to the content of his Twitter feed, the airline promptly informed the authorities and slapped Roberts with a lifetime ban. While he may be the only guy to be blacklisted for cyber crime, he is not alone when it comes to social media cock-ups. Read on to find out why the following people should have thought at least twice before sending their thoughts out into cyberspace.
The infamous US Airways porn tweet
Normally, sending a tweet without checking it first results in nothing worse than Autocorrect changing the text into a hilarious alternative. In 2014, however, the person responsible for US Airways’ Twitter feed accidentally posted a photograph of a woman doing unspeakable things with a scale model 777. The picture is most definitely NSFW, so you’ll have to rely on Google image search if you must see it. Suffice to say no one deserves to receive an attachment like that in response to a customer service complaint. Worse still, the airline waited a full hour before removing the post, by which time it had gone viral.
Whereas most airlines avoid pissing off entire nations because it tends to affect ticket sales, it would seem that KLM didn’t get that memo. When the Netherlands beat Mexico in the 2014 soccer World Cup, the Dutch carrier posted a picture of a moustachioed gentleman sporting a sombrero and poncho, with the caption ‘Adios Amigos!’ Funnily enough, this offended a large number of people, many of whom were quick to vent their anger all over the internet. KLM pulled the post and apologised, trotting out the standard excuse that it was meant to be a joke and that no offence was intended. At least they stopped short of saying some of their best friends were Mexican.
You’re gonna do what to Marilyn?!
In 2012, what should have been a dream vacation for a young British couple quickly turned into a nightmare. In the run up to their departure, Leigh Van Bryan tweeted to friends that he and Emily Bunting were going to ‘destroy America’ and ‘dig up Marilyn Monroe’. To anyone below the age of 40, this was obviously referencing their plan to party hard rather than a desire to burn down an entire country. The Monroe quote was even lifted directly from a well-known American cartoon series. Unfortunately for Van Bryan and Bunting, US Homeland Security agents are renowned for having zero sense of humour and don’t watch Family Guy. The pair were locked up for 12 hours and then deported.
Robin Hood bomb threat
Staying with the theme of authorities who just cannot take a joke, spare a thought for Paul Chambers. In 2010, he sent a tweet to staff at snowbound Robin Hood airport in northern England suggesting they “get their shit together” or he was going to “blow the place sky high.” Clearly a joke, right? After all, how many real terrorists send bomb threats from a named and traceable Twitter account? Even so, prosecutors decided Chambers had broken the law and charged him with sending a menacing tweet. After a third appeal, not to mention a long-awaited dose of common sense, the conviction was finally overturned by the High Court in London.
Hey, it’s not like I shot a lion!
In 2015, a corporate communications director named Justine Sacco became the living embodiment of the phrase, ‘live by the sword, die by the sword.’ Despite relying heavily on the viral nature of the internet to do her job, it seems she believed that the rules didn’t apply to her. Big mistake. Just before the final leg of a journey from the US to South Africa, Sacco tweeted that catching AIDS down there was not a problem because she was white. She then settled down to enjoy her 12-hour flight to Cape Town, not realising that the tweet was flying faster than she was. By the time her plane landed, Sacco was the most hated person in the Twitterverse and a public relations nightmare in her own right.
Thomson stewardess photo shames
When faced with a difficult passenger, most cabin crew will employ a frozen smile and try to accommodate their demands. Only when back in the relative safety of the galley will they turn the air blue. However, when Claire Marshall Hernandez ran out of patience with an eccentric customer, she took it one step further. Hernandez posted a warning to her colleagues on a Facebook page, along with a picture and descriptions such as ‘barking mad hatter’ and ‘an absolute nightmare’. Unfortunately, the page was apparently frequented by Thomson management as well as colleagues, because the post dropped Hernandez right in the shit.
Ryanair pilot’s Facebook faux pas
Another person who could have used a refresher course in Facebook privacy settings is Iain Inglis. In 2015, following some interesting headlines concerning cosmic radiation, Inglis decided it would be amusing to snap a selfie with his head covered in aluminium foil. Unfortunately, he did this while he was still in the cockpit of his Ryanair aircraft. At the time, attention was focused on pilot mental health so wearing anything associated with conspiracy mentalists was ill-advised, to say the least. If that weren’t enough, he then went on to call some of his passengers “morons”. Despite all this, Ryanair decided not to take any disciplinary action against Inglis, thereby cementing their reputation for stellar customer service.