August 20, 2019

U.K. Airline Fines Unruly Passenger $106,000 for ‘Dangerous Behavior’

U.K. Airline Fines Unruly Passenger $106,000 for ‘Dangerous Behavior’

Sarah Stewart, an aviation lawyer in London, said that there had been a sharp increase in disruptive behavior on planes. From 2007 to 2015, there were over 49,000 reported cases of “unruly passenger incidents onboard aircraft in flight,” she said in an email on Thursday.

Ms. Stewart said that costs for forced plane reroutings typically ranged from 10,000 pounds to 80,000 pounds, or about $12,400 to $99,300, “depending on the size of the aircraft and where it diverts to.”

She added that offenders could face large fines and lifetime bans, like those issued to Ms. Haines, and even imprisonment, but that the punishment for the disruption depended on the severity of the act.

“Acts of drunkenness on an aircraft face a maximum fine of £5,000 and two years in prison,” she said. “The prison sentence for endangering the safety of an aircraft is up to five years; disruptive passengers can be asked to reimburse the airline the costs resulting from their disruptive behavior, including the cost for diversions, damage to aircraft and delays.”

“If the passenger refuses to pay, enforcement action can be taken,” she added.

Mr. Heapy, the Jet2 chief, said that he hoped the case involving Ms. Haines would be seen as a cautionary tale.

“As a family-friendly airline, we take an absolutely zero-tolerance approach to disruptive behavior,” he said.

Ms. Haines could not be reached for comment.

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