Weird News

Don't messi with me!

Deputy Editor James Muir presents some unlikely stories from the world of aviation.

Picture credit: Gabriele@adobe.stock 

Famous people fly around the world like the rest of us, though rarely slumming it in economy, but sometimes they still have issues getting into countries. This is what top footballer Lionel Messi found out when he was held by immigration in Beijing due to a passport mix up.

The Argentinian footballer was entering China with his teammates for a friendly match against Australia when he was stopped for using his Spanish passport instead of his Argentinian one. Chinese media reports that he asked “is Taiwan not China?” in reference to being able to enter Taiwan without a visa using his Spanish passport. He thought the same rules applied to mainland China, it is claimed.

Messi was made to wait for an expedited visa, which took two hours to process. Hundreds of fans were waiting at the airport and they got a glimpse of their hero eventually. Argentina won the match by the way.

Here’s a tip
The tipping culture in the US can be confusing, working out how much should one give. Now self-service machines are expecting tips, which has raised debate on the Internet. The user used the machine to purchase food and drink and Newark Liberty International Airport when the machine asked her if she would like to tip 15, 18 or 20% or nothing at all. She joked: "It finally happened. I was prompted to tip at the airport self-checkout station."

Fellow users were quick to chip in with comments varying between sensible and jokey. One user asked who is being tipped, which received the response "The robotic overlords". Wall Street Journal research says US tipping practices have changed since the pandemic with an increasing number of self-service checkouts with people claiming that they are being emotionally blackmailed into giving tips.

Fat fee
British airports are introducing drop-off fees to discourage people from driving to the airport, but glitches in the system can result in an unexpectedly large charge. At Edinburgh Airport, the system tried to charge a taxi driver £5,500, accusing them of being in the drop-off zone for almost three weeks even though they had left in under 10 minutes. Another driver who also stayed for less than 10 minutes was presented with a bill for £2,386 for allegedly staying one day, 15 hours and 55 minutes.

Edinburgh Live reports that contactless card payments were refused because they have a limit of £100 and staff were quick to help out. The airport has apologised and offered refunds for incorrect fees. A spokesman says the technical issues have been resolved.

Standards slide
If you are looking for a unique garden feature, how does an emergency slide sound? One resident received the unusual gift when the emergency slide detached and landed in the back garden of their home when it detached from an aircraft landing at Chicago O’Hare airport.

United Airlines flight UA12, a Boeing 767-300ER from Zurich was approaching O’Hare when the slide came off four miles from the airport. The flight crew were unaware of their loss until it was noted by maintenance staff following the uneventful landing. The incident was captured on a suburban security camera and the footage was posted on social media.

No injuries were reported and the Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation to find the factors and the cause of the slide’s unintended deployment.

What a balls up
At school, there is always a boy who takes a strange pleasure in drawing what we will describe as male anatomy. When they grow up (well…) and become pilots, some like to take their art to the skies. A Lufthansa pilot denies creating this amusing flight pattern over Sicily after being ordered to divert to Malta. Officials say the amusing pattern was created as the pilot attempted to land in Catania twice before being ordered to go to Malta. The pattern caused much amusement on Flightradar24.

It is not the first time pilots have left this mark with a military helicopter drawing a similar pattern over Malta earlier this year. spotted the interesting route and tweeted a screenshot with the caption “Meanwhile in Malta…”. Pilots are regularly accused of deliberately drawing the pattern including a US Air Force tanker appearing to draw the pattern off the east coast of Cyprus, near Russia’s Syrian naval base in 2020.

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