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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

Disorderly Conduct

Have you ever witnessed an unruly passenger on a flight? Thankfully, I haven’t. The unruly passenger on this flight blamed a medical reason for his behavior.

The flight crew noticed the 51-year-old passenger behaving oddly on a flight from Los Angeles to Japan. When the passenger began banging on a restroom door and shouting, a flight attendant tried to direct the passenger toward a vacant restroom. He attempted to shove the helpful flight attendant, but missed, then returned to his seat and napped.

After his nap, a flight attendant denied his request for alcohol, sending the passenger into a rage. To make his feeling known, he shouted profanities, then grabbed the flight attendant by his tie, hit him in the face and attempted to throw him to the floor. He yelled obscenities and said he was going to kill the flight attendant.

Other passengers and flight crew restrained the man until pilots could safely land the diverted plane in Anchorage, Alaska, where the local authorities, TSA Air Marshal, and an FBI agent took the man into custody.

Meanwhile, the remaining passengers and flight crew, approximately 200, had to stay overnight. The airline paid for their rooms and meals until they could leave the following morning.

A defense attorney explained his client’s behavior that uncontrolled diabetes when combined with alcohol can cause severe hypoglycemia and result in combativeness. Regardless of the reason for his outburst, the passenger pleaded guilty to Interference with Flight Crew and Attendants.

A federal judge sentenced the passenger to five years of probation and to pay almost $50,000 to the airline to cover the expenses that occurred because of the layover.

The Federal Aviation Administration tracks unruly passengers. Prior to 2021, and the requirement to wear a mask on planes, the average number of unruly passenger investigations initiated was about 125 per year. In 2021, the FAA investigated over 1,000.

It’s a federal crime to mess around on an airplane or interfere with a crewmember performing their duties. Refusing to wear a mask when mandated violates federal law and can result in up to a $37,000 fine to start. One passenger behaving badly can violate multiple federal laws and be fined greater than $37,000. #truecrime #disorderlyconduct

Source: U.S. District Court, Federal Aviation Administration, Anchorage Daily News, Flyertalk,

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