OMG: The 12 Craziest Travel Stories of 2012

The Most Ridiculous Travel Stories of 2012

Written by Isabel Clift

It’s been a crazy, bizarre, controversial and occasionally rather heartwarming year for travel news. Here are 12 stories that made us go “Oh… my… God…” in 2012…

1. Superstorm Sandy’s fake photos

Fake Sandy photo

Flights the length of the US’s East Coast were cancelled and delayed in preparation for Superstorm Sandy, and many residents – battened down in their homes – documented the ongoing damage with camera phones. Quite a lot of others, however, couldn’t resist telling the pictographic version of porky pies with Photoshop, and images lifted from The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day. Yep, that’s right – the ‘shark’ spotted in Brooklyn (below), for example, is a fake that’s been doing the rounds since 2008.

Fake Sandy Shark

Other, real images that came out during Sandy were dramatic enough – showing a vulnerable version of the city in high contrast to the grit and glamour of ordinary NYC shots.

Jane’s Carousel near Brooklyn Bridge just managed to escape being submerged in the swelled Hudson:

Jane's carousel Sandy NYC

Lights out in the Lower Manhattan skyline:

NYC Sandy Skyline

2. Olympics: The Queen jumps out of James Bond’s helicopter

Olympics: queen jumps out of helicopter

In an Olympic opening ceremony that contained a giant baby, Mr. Bean and Kenneth Branagh dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, perhaps the most bonkers bit of all was the Queen parachuting into the stadium from James Bond’s helicopter. It happened, ok? We have photo evidence and everything (left)!

Other London Olympics travel stories we liked? The militant PR campaign of transport doom rammed down Londoners’ throats for months beforehand, and that actual better-than-usual smooth running of the tube network that transpired:

Olympics expectations

And London Mayor Boris Johnson getting stuck on a zipwire.

Boris Johnson on a Zipwire

3. Nik Wallenda tightropes over the Niagara Falls

Nik Wallenda from the seventh generation of a family of professional daredevils, the Flying Wallendas, crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope in June – the first time the feat’s been performed in over 200 years. He crossed from Canada to the US at 1800ft on a two-inch wire.

4. Ryanair: a year in quotes

Michael O'LearyRyanair CEO Michael O’Leary continued his legendary charm offensive by calling a passenger “stupid” in August, after she complained on Facebook for having to pay €300 to print her family’s boarding passes at a Spanish airport.

In an interview with Management Today he complained about his wages, saying “I’m paid about 20 times more than the average employee and I think that gap should be wider,” and also admitted “I’m probably unemployable, which is why a business as shitty as the airline industry is one where I can flourish.” The man gives good quote, we can’t deny him that.

5. Gangnam Style puts Seoul’s fanciest neighbourhood on the map

Psy took over the world with Gangnam Style this year, a K-rap ode to Seoul’s fanciest neighbourhood. So big was the tune, Ban Ki Moon and Barack Obama lined up to be photographed learning its horserider-stance dance – and alleged hilarity ensued.

The actual meaning of ‘Gangnam’ has been lost to many of the song’s 100 million plus Youtube watchers – so Seoul’s tourist board put together a video of their own to ride the wave. Whether it leads to a spike in travel to Seoul in 2013 is anyone’s guess… but at least now we know the origins of why we’ll all be pretending to ride a horse at 1am at this year’s office Christmas party.

6. Prince Harry gets naked in Vegas

Prince Harry Naked

By getting snapped playing naked billiards in his VIP suite at the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, Harry did more for Sin City’s media coverage than The Hangover and Ocean’s Eleven could ever dream of.

7. A guy space-jumps like it’s no big deal…

In October, Dutch base jumper Felix Baumgartner took his adrenaline addiction one step further and parachuted to Earth from the planet’s upper atmosphere. It was the first time a human’s broken the sound barrier, and he really nailed that landing. Red Bull sponsored the endeavour, and tweeted afterwards:

RedBullStratos Tweet

But we much prefer Felix’s fake account post…



8. Hobbitised: Air New Zealand safety video

How could you ever get worried about plane safety again, knowing hobbits are on your flight? Actually, you probably still could, but thanks for the distraction anyway Air New Zealand.

9. Apple maps: The ultimate #firstworldproblem?

Apple Maps

“Waaaaah, my iPhone 5 can’t show me where to go quite as well as it used to. But I can’t just buy an A-Z, enjoy the rest of the phone’s ridiculous touchscreeny magic and be thankful I have £40 to comfortably spend per month on a two year contract. Nope, I’ll take to the internet and keyboard-mash out my rage instead. Because this is the most important thing to get angry about in 2012.”

An at least funny example of said keyboard-mashing: The amazing iOS6 maps Tumblr

10. Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino makes horrible excuses

The Costa Concordia disaster in January claimed the lives of 32 passengers. This tragedy is hardly ‘crazy’ news – but the actions of the captain Francesco Schettino did beggar belief.

Costa Concordia disater

After delaying the call to abandon ship for an hour and 30 minutes after the vessel hit rocks off Isola del Giglio, Italy, the captain left the ship himself and then stalled going back on board to coordinate the evacuation. These actions have drawn huge criticism from passengers, families of the victims and the media – and at the very beginning, the ire of coast guard Captain Gregorio Maria De Falco in a radio call:

Schettino:“In this moment, the boat is tipping …”

De Falco: “I understand that, listen, there are people that are coming down the pilot ladder of the prow. You go up that pilot ladder, get on that ship and tell me how many people are still on board. And what they need. Is that clear? You need to tell me if there are children, women or people in need of assistance. And tell me the exact number of each of these categories. Is that clear? Listen Schettino, that you saved yourself from the sea, but I am going to … really do something bad to you … I am going to make you pay for this. Go on board, (expletive)!”

Schettino: “Commander, please …”

And so it went on. Read the whole transcript here.

Currently the Costa Concordia remains grounded off the coast of Isola del Giglio – leading to some surreal, that’s-just-wrong photos of summer sunbathers basking in its wake.

11. Melbourne Metro shows us the dumbest ways to die

This adorably dark video from Melbourne Metro promoting safety on their trains went viral in November. Who would have though death by washing machine could look so cute?

12. Curiosity takes us to Mars

Never mind Felix Baumgartner, travel went beyond Earth in 2012. Here’s the Curiosity rover taking the very first selfie from Mars…

Mars Curiosity Rover Takes Self Portrait

What was your favourite story of 2012? Have we missed anything? Tell us in the comments…

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