I wrote a post recently about how some travelers do really stupid things like getting too close to wildlife or disobeying warning signs when hiking … and it almost never ends well, from being severely injured to sometimes death. You can read the story about a woman who was gored while filming a bison and another person who was chased and bitten by a seal here. Both are crazy!

Well, the latest crazy travel story I’ve happened upon occurred on an airplane. According to the Jerusalem Post, a passenger caused a fire in an airplane bathroom on an El Al flight to Bangkok.

Per the article: “The incident took place on a flight that took off last night from Tel Aviv, after a passenger who probably wanted to smoke without being detected threw a cigarette butt into the trash can in the toilet compartment – but the cigarette ignited the toilet paper inside, which caused both the trash can and the toilet to catch fire.”

The craziest part? “After the fire was extinguished, an assessment of the situation was conducted, and it was determined that there was no danger to the plane. El Al decided not to involve the police in Thailand, but the company will take legal action against the man.”

How can you not press charges against someone who puts everyone’s life in jeopardy? He should have been arrested on arrival and thrown in jail so he can never do it again.

READ: Passenger Opens Emergency Exit Door and Walks Off Moving Plane at Chicago’s O’Hare

According to a couple of readers over at One Mile at a Time, this is obviously quite dangerous. Reader LEM, wrote: “I was crew with VARIG when we lost a 707 due to a similar incident back in the 70’s. Most passengers died but the technical crew managed to land the airplane short of the runway at Orly/Paris. I no longer can tell you the finer details but we lost crew members in that incident. Only because an IDIOT decided to smoke in the toilet.”

Another OMAAT reader named Duck Ling commented: “At the european airline I am crew for we would deal with the issue in the same manner. The toilet bins on aircraft have an integral fire extinguisher within and are in a way designed for containing exactly this kind of fire – stupid people shoving their cigs in there. That’s why there is a bin flap that MUST flip back into the closed position after you deposit trash into it – so any toilet bin fire can be contained. A toilet trash bin where the flap is damaged and is stuck open and will not retract will usually result in that lavatory being blocked off altogether due to the fire risk. This is definitely NOT a situation we would divert over. If the fire became uncontrollable OR the source of the fire could not be located (ie the cigarette butt) then we probably would. We would give the passenger a very firm warning and we keep Final Warning letters in the flight deck that are signed by the captain and issued to the passenger. To avoid arrest, the passenger has to read the letter and agree to the terms. Obviously we will confiscate any cigarettes and monitor that passenger intently. We would definitely be monitoring their bathroom visits and any further violations and we would definitely have them arrested.”

READ: 10 Items I Have in Case of an Emergency

Fortunately, I’ve never been on a flight where a passenger has tried to smoke in the lavatory (not to my knowledge). However, I’ve had multiple flight attendants tell me that crazy passengers do and they try to mask the smoke by opening the sink or flushing the toilet as they’re pressurized but it still sets off the smoke detectors. Fortunately, if you do this in the United States, you will most likely be spending at least one night in jail.

Have you ever been on a flight where a passenger tried to illegally smoke? I’m not talking back in the early 1990s when it was still legal on international flights. I experienced that on a LAX to Hong Kong flight and it was terrible and looking back, mind-blowing that it was legal.



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