With the Olympic Games, a presidential election, and a devastating hurricane, 2012 has been a fully-packed year for news, and it didn't disappoint when it comes to some over-the-top, outrageous moments in travel. From passengers smuggling fetuses on planes to hotels introducing some...unusual...souvenirs, we've rounded-up the world's most notable, eyebrow-raising travel stories of 2012.
Anantara Resorts Debuts Expensive Coffee with Surprise Ingredient
In October, Asian hotel chain Anantara unveiled the world's most exclusive—and expensive—coffee in the world, and it has a special ingredient: elephant dung. Yes, as unappetizing as it sounds, according to the maker, a coffee bean digested then excreted by Thai elephants produces a rather smooth cup of java. It turns out that, during digestion enzymes break down coffee protein, which is a factor responsible for bitterness in coffee. All that weird science makes for one upscale cup of joe: at $1,100 per kilogram retail value, that's about $50 per serving. The coffee blend, Black Ivory, is sold at Anantara's four Maldives properties and Anantara Golden Triangle in Thailand, as well as at a few other exclusive locations.
Two Fetuses Found in Luggage at Miami International Airport
The award for this year's weirdest travel accessory goes to two women arriving at Miami International Airport with two stillborn, human fetuses. Apparently, back in March, the women were transporting the fetuses from Cuba, to be used in a traditional Cuban ceremony known as Santeria. They apparently had no idea what was in the jars, as they were simply delivering the vessels as a favor. There were no charges involved, but maybe some not-too-fond memories for a reality TV show film crew that was witness to the event.
United Airlines Kills Supermodel Maggie Rizer's dog, Lies About It
Animals dying onboard aircrafts is a tragic, and unfortunately not unusual event, but United Airlines took it to a whole other level when they lied about the onboard death of supermodel Maggie Rizer's dog. In September, Rizer checked her crated, two-year-old Golden Retriever onboard United Airlines and landed to find her pet dead. She reported that United told her they sent the dog to the vet for a necropsy but that actually never happened—the dead dog was still in the crate. Rizer claimed: "Over the next two hours the supervisor’s lie unraveled as it became clear that Bea was right behind a closed door the whole time and he had been discussing how to handle the potential liability with his boss who had left and sticking to the divert and stall tactic that they had been taught."
Ex-Con Boards a Flight without a Ticket
Security around worldwide airports may have tightened but at least one person managed to give the TSA the slip at San Diego International Airport. In May, a man who had just left prison walked through an emergency door at the airport, then boarded a 30-seat United Express aircraft—without a ticket. Talk about saving on airfare! The man may have gotten away with a free flight if the flight attendant hadn't realized she had too many passengers, and authorities showed him the way off the plane.
Norwegian Tourist Takes Drunken Nap on Moving Luggage Belt
Well, we hope it was a good nap. In August, a 36-year-old Norwegian tourist was found asleep on a moving baggage belt at Rome's Fiumicino Airport. Having arrived for check-in and not found an agent, he did what anyone would do, and hopped the agent's desk for a quick nap with his luggage on the conveyor belt. According to Italian newspaper la Repubblica, the belt took off and he was spotted 15 minutes later, and 160 feet down the line, as his napping form was picked up on an X-ray scanner. Apparently drunk, he was carted off to the hospital after being woken up, er, apprehended by authorities.