Add to that body of knowledge something else: the story of a United Airlines pilot whose strange, horrible experience in a Denver hotel finally reached some kind of a happy ending.

United Airlines pilot Andrew Collins was arrested in Denver for indecent exposure in September 2018, after he allegedly walked around his Westin airport hotel room in the nude for 20 minutes, while talking on the phone.

By all accounts, Collins thought he was alone and that nobody could see him. 

However, he failed to realize that with the curtains to his room at the airport Westin Hotel open, people in the airport terminal across the way could see inside.

Things quickly took a turn for the worse.

'Put your hands where I can see them'

"The concourse windows are tinted green and are opaque and reflective," his attorney later explained. "It's like looking at a green wall or a green mirror."

All of which should have led to no more than a slightly embarrassing anecdote -- except that somebody called the police. And Collins soon faced law enforcement officers with guns drawn. 

He was arrested, faced a tawdry criminal charge, and held overnight in jail. The city refused to drop the charges.

(I embedded a six-minute police body camera video of his arrest, here.) Finally a judge dismissed the case in March. 

Collins sued the city of Denver. And this week, we learned, he reached a settlement of his lawsuit: $300,000 for wrongful arrest, according to local television station  KMGH.

'Every day without fail'

Honestly, that sounds low to me for what this poor guy went through. While all this was pending, he was reportedly suspended for six months from United Airlines.

A campaign he was in to become a union president (ironically, the subject of the phone call he was on while walking around absent-mindedly in the buff), fell apart.

Even now, he told another local television station, Fox 31, that he deals with the situation constantly.

"I have to explain this situation every day without fail," Collins said. "I have been tagged by Homeland Security, anytime I get back into the country I am pulled aside and asked if I have been in trouble with the law."

His legal moves might not be done, however. His lawyer says he's considering suing the Westin for allowing police without a warrant -- while also adding he hopes to donate at least some of his legal winnings to the Innocence Project, "having known now what it is like to be falsely accused."

If you're a business traveler

Now, I hope the exact contours of this story aren't anything that would ever concern you as a business traveler.

But there's a tendency for some business travelers to consider their travel (at least some of it) to be a sort of "time out from life," where things don't really count.

For some, maybe they overindulge a bit eating or drinking. For some, maybe they're just a little more spendthrift or absent-minded or jet-lagged and not thinking clearly, as Collins seems to have been.

For others, well, you can use your imagination.

(If you haven't seen the story of the three Indiana judges who attended a conference together -- one that wound up allegedly involving a drunken fight in the parking lot of a White Castle and a shooting that left two of the judges wounded (and all three judges suspended) -- it's worth a read.)

Point being: it does count. What happens in Denver, so to speak, doesn't stay in Denver.

I don't know who has to hear this, but when you're on the road, stay in control. Don't do things -- at least not too many things -- that you wouldn't feel okay doing at home.

Oh, and if the curtains in your hotel room don't close all the way, try using a hanger

Published on: Nov 17, 2019
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