Too often people on airplanes misbehave and get away with it. Here is a case where someone is held accountable and even has to reimburse the airline for some of the costs incurred as a result of their actions.
Why a United Airlines flight to Anchorage was diverted
First, let’s talk about what caused this incident. In February 2020, a 52-year-old California man flew United Airlines from Los Angeles to Tokyo.
He reportedly began to act shortly after take-off when a flight attendant saw him knock on the door of an aircraft bathroom. When the flight attendant led him to another bathroom, he tried to push the crew member but failed.
The man returned to his seat but fell asleep. When he woke up, he ordered more alcoholic beverages but was refused due to his previous behavior. Then he started swearing and slapped the flight attendant in the face before attempting to hit the flight attendant on the floor. At one point he even yelled, “I’m going to kill you.”
At that point, the passenger was detained and the flight was diverted to Anchorage and picked up by the authorities. Due to the diversion, all passengers had to spend one night in Anchorage as the crew would have timed out meaning they could not continue the journey.
How this passenger was convicted by United Airlines
In November last year, the man pleaded guilty to disturbing the flight crew during a trial and appeared in court earlier this week for his conviction:
- He was sentenced to five years probation
- He was instructed to reimburse United Airlines for the costs incurred during the diversion, including the cost of meals and accommodation for the passengers and crew, which amounted to $ 49,793
- The man’s lawyer alleged that his client had diabetes and that it, combined with alcohol, may have caused his behavior
- The judge said the man avoided jail simply out of concern for his diabetes, which puts him at a higher risk for COVID-19 infection
In the US, we haven’t seen many passengers being asked to reimburse airlines for costs incurred as a result of their behavior. This is an interesting precedent.
It’s worth noting that the ~ $ 50,000 he pays is only a fraction of the cost United incurred as a result of this diversion, as it doesn’t take into account the cancellation of the return flight, additional costs for aircraft, crew and meals, etc. the room and board on site for everyone in Alaska.
In February 2020, a man caused a United Airlines flight to Tokyo to divert to Anchorage due to his behavior.
About a year later, the man was convicted and is facing five years probation and has to reimburse United Airlines about $ 50,000 for some of the costs incurred by the diversion. He’s just avoiding jail time for coronavirus.
In the US, we generally see less tolerance for unruly behavior on airplanes, with the FAA even introducing a zero tolerance policy for misconduct. I’m curious to see if this is the start of a trend where more passengers are paying at least part of the bill for the diversions they cause.