Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Unruly passenger ordered to pay airline nearly $100K

A man whose unruly behavior forced the pilot of a nonstop flight to New York to return to Honolulu owes Hawaiian Airlines $97,817, according to a new report.

James August, of New Jersey, pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members and attendants in February and was ordered to pay the hefty sum by a federal judge Monday, the Honolulu Star Adviser reported.

Officials said the man, who had been vacationing in Hawaii with his girlfriend and her children, acted out before the November 2016 flight even left the ground.

August, who was drinking before the flight, tried to order more alcohol on the plane and drank some he personally brought aboard.

During the meal service, his girlfriend’s son told a flight attendant he had insulted the children and threatened their lives.

When the attendant asked him to go to another part of the plane, he whacked her on the shoulder with the back of his hand and other passengers had to help restrain him.

Authorities said August then yelled, swore and threatened to punch his girlfriend in the face.

US District Senior Judge Oki Molloway ordered August to repay the airline the costs it incurred for turning the plane around, including fuel, maintenance, ground crew and costs associated with finding the passengers other flights.

The sum does not include the $46,900 of meal vouchers Hawaiian Airlines handed out to delayed New York-bound passengers.

Interfering with flight crew members and attendants is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The judge sentenced August to three years of probation in June.

Two women who caused a Cuba-bound flight to return to Toronto in 2016 were ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution to the airline.

A Florida man who caused a Delta Airlines flight to turn around in July when he tried to open the exit door was indicted on five counts, including interfering with a flight crew and assault.

(Tamar Lapin - New York Post)