File this under: about time. So often we hear stories about drunken or otherwise disruptive passengers forcing a flight delay or diversion only never to hear about whether the passenger is held accountable for his actions. A federal judge has slapped a New Jersey man with a $97K fine for slapping a Hawaiian Airlines FA and being so disruptive Hawaiian felt obligated to divert the flight.
James August is a piece of work. He had a bit too much to drink before his 10hr economy class flight from Honolulu to New York (you can hardly blame the man for that…) but rather than being the quiet drunk that keeps to himself, decided to berate his family and assault a FA.
His girlfriend and her children would not even sit next to him. Allegedly, he began to threaten them in a profanity-laced tirade and they moved back a row. FAs told them to return to their assigned seats but the girlfriend begged to stay put, stating, “Can you please just keep him away from us?”
FAs asked August to move but he responded with rage, slapping the shoulder of a FA. Confirming with passengers around him that he had made “multiple life-threatening remarks,” the captain opted to return the flight to Honolulu. August had to be restrained by two male FAs for the remainder of the flight.
The case went to trial earlier this year and August pleaded guilty. Now a judge has set his fine.
August…now has to pay $97,817.29 in monthly installments of 10 percent of his gross income. The money will reimburse Hawaiian Airlines for landing fees, crew costs, the cost of rebooking passengers on different flights and other assorted expenses.
I hope this case will serve as a deterrent to others. While I’m not in favor of banning alcohol at airports or on commercial airlines, I do believe we should have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol abuse. August was a threat to his family and to others…it was proper to divert the aircraft and the fine is more than reasonable and probably should have been higher.
(H/T: View from the Wing)