A pilot on a New York-bound flight caused a mid-air 'terror' panic after accidentally locking himself in the toilet just as the flight was preparing to land.
A passenger in the front row of the Chatauqua Airlines plane from Asheville, North Carolina, heard him trying to get out of the loo, and offered to help. The pilot told him to go to the cockpit and inform the crew of his situation, which the well-meaning man did.
But the co-pilot in the cockpit was completely spooked by what was described as the man's 'thick Middle Eastern' accent, refused to let him in, and called a state of emergency.
He radioed the control tower at LaGuardia Airport, who in turn alerted fighter planes.
On an audio recording, he can be heard saying: 'We are 180 knots 10,000 [feet] uh, can we leave the frequency for a minute? We are going to try to, uh contact dispatch.
'The captain disappeared in the back, and, uh, I have someone with a thick foreign accent trying to access the cockpit.'
'What I'm being told is he's stuck in the lav, and, uh, someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit.
'I'm not about to let him in.'
The controller was also apparently spooked by the situation, telling the co-pilot to declare an emergency and 'just get on the ground'.
The situation was only remedied when the pilot managed to break out of the toilet just in time to stop the fighter planes from being scrambled.
According to the Daily Mail, in a cockpit radio recording obtained by the New York Post, he can be heard telling air traffic control: 'The captain, myself, went back to the lavatory and the door latch broke and I had to fight my way out of it with my body to get the door open.
'There is no issue, no threat.'
However, FBI and Port Authority officers were still waiting to meet the plane when it landed, but quickly realised there had been a huge misunderstanding after talking to the rather harassed passenger.
Perhaps the pilot will just cross his legs until he lands next time...
The worst airports in the world 2011
Terror scare as pilot locks himself in loo and sends 'foreign' man to cockpit
The NAIA in Manila has been voted as the 2011 world's worst airport by users of the online travel website The Guide to Sleeping in Airports (sleepinginairports.net), based on reader reviews and poll votes. The website listed reasons such as safety concerns, theft, poor facilities, bribery and lack of comfortable seating. One reader said: 'You will not want to even close your eyes here! Bribery and theft exists. Airport taxes are collected, but the money does not seem to go towards the betterment of the airport.' In terms of facilities, passengers may have better luck at the newer Terminal 3, where it is clean, spacious and offers an internet connection.
It might be the largest airport in France - and one of the busiest in the world - but Paris CDG, which opened in 1974, has since frequently been criticised for its confusing layout, rude staff and ugly buildings. What's more, the seating benches have been deemed uncomfortable and insufficient, and homeless people are said to frequently disturb sleeping travellers.
Frankfurt Hahn also made sleepinginairports.net's worst airports 2011 list. They said: 'Limited seating, bucket seats, and a lack of passenger facilities. A very basic airport for budget airlines.' In a 2010 World's Worst Travel Survey, passengers also complained of 'confusing signage' and 'unpleasant ground staff'.
In a Priority Pass survey in 2010, London Heathrow was voted the least favourite airport, owing to the fact that it is also one of the world's busiest. The problems of winter 2010, when the airport was ill-prepared for bad weather and snow grounded thousands of flights, further weakened its image. Long security queues and hours waiting at the baggage line have also been cited.
According to Independent writer Peter Popham, Delhi airport's 'carpeting is a thin scarlet runner, and stains are splattered in corners. Creature comforts are negligible. Passport control takes an eternity. Half the trolleys are broken down. They force you to x-ray your luggage coming in to the country as well as going out.' And, according to a survey by Foreign Policy magazine, it also boasts 'aggressive beggars, syringes on the terminal floor, and filthy bathrooms'.
According to reports, 'the odour of faeces and urine abound in this airport, which no doubt attract the hoards of rats, cockroaches and other bugs that scurry around the departures and arrivals area.' There's also been talk of overflowing toilets, and passengers escaping the airport chaos only to be mugged or beaten on the tarmac outside.
The San Francisco Chronicle describes LAX as 'eight terminals connected by a traffic jam'. And, according to sleepinginairports.net, seating is limited, rude security staff 'automatically assume you are a terrorist or that you will never leave their country', bathrooms are in poor condition, signage is poor, and there are no conveniences for people in transit.... 'not even a 24 hour coffee shop.' Ouch.
This small airport in the town of Lukla in eastern Nepal is popular as it is the gateway to the Mount Everest region in Nepal. But it will give you a nail-biting landing, involving a plummet onto an uphill airstrip cut into the side of a mountain. And on takeoff, the airstrip comes to an abrupt end at the edge of a mountain cliff.
At Dakar's airport 'there is only squalor, an unnerving sense of confinement, and to some extent danger,' said salon.com's Patrick Smith. Foreign Policy magzine's survey concurred, writing: 'Dakar has no seats and travellers are targeted by hawkers, porters and security guards who move them on. Immigration takes three hours.'
Simón Bolívar International, known locally as ‘Maiquetia’, is the main international airport in the South American state of Venezuela. It is located around 29km from the centre of the capital, Caracas, and is described as being 'situated practically in the middle of the favelas'. Hundreds of travellers have been robbed or mugged as soon as they left the airport, while kidnapping, stabbings and shootings 'have all occurred before passengers have even reached the taxi line', according to the Matador Network. What's more, you'll be charged a $53 airport tax for the privilege.