Here’s a good reason not to overdo it at the airport bar before your flight.
If you have a few too many and your antics cause the plane to be diverted, it’s not just the risk of criminal charges and becoming international news to worry about — you could also be forced to cover the enormous cost of the airline landing the plane.
That’s what a British man discovered after his “absolutely disgusting” drunken behaviour on a WestJet flight from Calgary, Canada to London.
David Stephen Young, 44, pleaded guilty in a Canadian court to failing to comply with safety instructions and resisting arrest on the January 4 flight.
The court heard Young, an alcoholic who was 18 months’ sober until the day of the flight, had about six drinks in the airport while waiting to board.
Young was returning to the UK after visiting his mother in Canada and was upset over a death in the family and his marriage breakdown, the judge noted, according to Canada’s CBC News.
On the plane, Young became belligerent with cabin crew and a fellow passenger and repeatedly tried to get up to use the bathroom during takeoff.
His abusive behaviour lasted an hour, at which time the flight crew made the decision to turn the plane around and return to Calgary.
CBC reported the pilot of the WestJet plane had to jettison more than 9000kg of fuel and fly around for about 45 minutes to burn more fuel so it could land safely at the origin airport.
Provincial court judge Brian Stevenson ordered Young pay $22,300 to compensate the airline for the wasted fuel.
The order also sent “a message to the general public about what will happen if they break the law in a similar fashion,” the judge said.
WestJet’s total losses, including compensation for other passengers, could be more than $210,000, CBC reported.
The prosecution had asked for a $68,000 restitution order but the judge said he didn’t want to send Young bankrupt.
He noted Young’s distressed state at the time of his flight.
“One has to feel some sympathy for the accused but as in all criminal legislation, it is trite to say that the voice of the victim must also be heard,” he said in handing down his sentence.
Young will be able to return to the UK within days.
Earlier this month, a Scoot flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney was forced to make an emergency landing in Sydney after an unruly passenger allegedly tried to fight other passengers and had to be restrained.
Australian Federal Police said investigations were ongoing and no charges had been laid.