The Craziest Travel Stories From 2021

Police officers making an arrest. (photo via wademcmillan / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus)
Patrick Clarke
by Patrick Clarke
Last updated: 8:00 AM ET, Fri December 31, 2021

Another Bizarre Year in the Books

The bar was set awfully high after a COVID-19 pandemic-plagued 2020, but 2021 certainly left its mark when it comes to wild, crazy and downright bizarre travel stories. Here's a look at some of the craziest stories you may have missed over the past year.

That Breakfast Burrito Isn't What It Seems

TSA once again seized some crazy items in 2021 but, in one of the year's most bizarre cases, officers discovered crystal meth hidden inside of a breakfast burrito at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston.

Interest in Vacation Tops All Others

In 2021, a survey conducted by online travel marketplace Skyscanner found that nearly half of Americans (49 percent) consider going on vacation to be the most significant leisure activity of the year, placing it higher than going to bars and restaurants (44 percent), reentering the dating scene (40 percent) and even attending events or live concerts (37 percent).

Air Travel and 5G Don't Mix

Travelers were likely looking forward to the 5G network rollout resulting in enhanced connectivity until they learned that it could wreak havoc on air travel by potentially causing interference with critical flight components and costing travelers billions of dollars in the form of delays and cancellations. The FAA and airline trade groups have voiced their concerns but appear ready to work with telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T to minimize the impact as mobile technology expands in 2022.

Apparently Flight Attendants Require Self Defense Training

The uptick in unruly passenger incidents has resulted in eye-popping fines and a shocking number of additions to the no-fly list, but the situation became borderline dire this winter when multiple members of Congress wrote airlines encouraging them to consider backing self-defense training courses for their flight crew. This came after TSA renewed its self-defense classes for flight crews.

Face Mask Disputes Continue

In October, an argument over face masks between a Southwest Airlines pilot and a flight attendant at a hotel bar in San Jose, California led to a fight resulting in the pilot being cited for alleged assault and battery. "The event involved a disagreement over mask-wearing or masks," said Sgt. Christian Camarillo, public information officer for the San Jose Police Department.

The Duct Tape Debate Rages On

Sadly, unruly passengers have reached the point of requiring restraint on some unfortunate flights, and in several cases, flight crews have relied on duct tape to subdue these disruptive guests posing a severe risk to themselves and their fellow passengers. Regardless of where you stand in the debate, it's clear that 2021 was the year the duct-tape discussion became a thing, with airlines going so far as to issue memos to their employees advising against putting out-of-control passengers in a sticky prison.

More Boeing 737 MAX Drama

The beleaguered Boeing 737 MAX aircraft unbelievably encountered additional issues just months after being approved to fly again. The potential electrical problems led to a temporary grounding this past spring, and while repairs were quickly made to return the planes to service, the airplane manufacturer was faced with millions in fines.

United Airlines Makes History

This winter, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to operate a flight carrying passengers using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel, carrying 100 passengers from Chicago to Washington, D.C. and calling it a "turning point in the industry's effort to combat climate change."

Cruise Lines See Eye-Popping Demand

One of the most shocking travel-related storylines of 2021 was how quickly the cruise industry was able to bounce back in terms of booking demand. For example, early on it became clear that river cruises were poised to be among the first to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels while Regent Seven Seas Cruises broke the World Cruise booking record over the summer.

The past 12 months have been, well, interesting, if nothing else.

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Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

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Agent At Home

Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

Subscribe For Free

Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me