If you’re flying to or from Texas, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. And if you do find yourself at DF-Dubs, steel yourself for some sort of, er, unique incident.
Last week was a particularly rough one for the airport, which had two separate mechanical issues on Thursday. First there was the flight that returned “shortly after takeoff … after smoke appeared in the cabin,” writes the Dallas Morning News. “Three passengers were injured slightly when the plane was evacuated using emergency slides.” This occurred an hour before the wheel of a landing plane ignited. Luckily, there were no injuries (but, also, no fun emergency slides).
Of course, those two incidents pale in comparison to the headline-grabbing issue five days before, when a man left his car unattended at the terminal’s curb, went through security without an ID, then actually boarded a plane preparing to leave for Guatemala. Explaining to authorities how he made it past TSA and, like, everybody (he was busted once on the plane), the man offered a rather straightforward answer: “I walked.”
And how could anyone forget the infamous October incident involving the drunk, homophobic Tennessee redneck impossibly named McCleish Christmas Benham, who harassed, then assaulted a man because of a pink shirt and was tackled by a group of vigilantes (including a Paul Rudd look alike).
Keep in mind, these are just some of the latest examples. In February, there was the prison inmate who was shot inside one of the airport’s bathrooms by a sheriff taking him on an extradition trip. And there’s the mechanic who died in March after “falling from a jet bridge.” Let’s not forget, either, the passengers who remained in one grounded plane for nine hours. That incident is not to be confused with one a year earlier, when a delayed Qantas flight kept passengers aboard — at the gate — for five hours.
Perhaps it’s these tense conditions at DFW that explain why the airport is consistently at the top of the national list for number of guns confiscated by the TSA. Last year’s figures were 106 loaded guns and 14 unloaded guns. Atlanta came in second with 109 total guns confiscated, followed by Phoenix with 78.
So WTF, DFW?
These incidents are somewhat cherry picked in a highly trafficked airport, but it’s pretty clear that the airport is some sort of Bermuda Triangle of bad luck and trouble. A cursory Google search of “incident + DFW” pulled up all these examples. Do the same with “incident + Austin airport,” however, and the first news items to appear are “Snoop Dogg stopped by Italian customs,” because of course Austin = weed (and Italy, apparently), as well as the recent story of a man who confronted Greg Abbott while the two were waiting for a return flight from New York. The same non-news happens when you search for trouble at San Antonio’s and Houston’s airports.
To be fair, perhaps some of this can be explained by the fact that DFW is the fourth busiest airport in the U.S. and the ninth busiest airport in the world — busier than Hong Kong and comparable to Paris. With that kind of traffic, there are bound to be some problems. Atlanta, for instance, experienced a “small electrical explosion” in June and an unaccompanied man exposing himself back in October.
So, as Arkansas has a famous saying, “thank God for Mississippi,” perhaps DFW’s own motto should be “thank God for Atlanta.” At the very least, DFW should be glad it’s not the subject of a massive conspiracy theory, like one airport that will go unnamed.
Still from Airplane!, 1980, Paramount Pictures
Follow Jeff Winkler on Twitter