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Charges for disruptive girls raises airline fairness issue

August 28, 2015 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Two unruly teenage girls who had to be forcibly restrained on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Perth now face a string of charges – but their treatment raises questions about why an unruly and violent adult passenger was apparently let off scot-free on a flight to Melbourne a few days earlier.

A Qantas spokesman told Perth Today there were three disruptive passengers on board the domestic flight from Sydney on Friday and two of them, both 17-year-old girls, had to be restrained.

No crew or passengers were hurt during the incident and the plane was not delayed, although much screaming and commotion took place, witnesses said.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers boarded the plane when it landed in Perth and escorted the two teenagers from the plane.

The two girls appeared in Perth Children’s Court on Monday facing a string of charges relating to offensive and disorderly behaviour and failing to comply with directions. According to Perth Today, one was charged with failing to adhere to instructions about activities aboard aircraft, offensive and disorderly behaviour on an aircraft, threats and false statements and failing to provide a name.

The second girl was charged with failing to adhere to instructions about activities on board aircraft and offensive and disorderly behaviour on an aircraft.

An AFP spokesman said the matter served to remind passengers that when flying within Australia, they were bound by Australian laws. “Unacceptable or violent behaviour will not be tolerated”.

In a separate case just a few days before, however, a man allegedly went berserk on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Melbourne, screaming, head-butting his seat and – much more seriously – allegedly punching a flight attendant in the face several times. See: What happened on Emirates flight EK406 to Melbourne? The man finished up being restrained by crew and lashed to his seat with cable ties.

AFP officers met that flight too, as soon as it landed in Melbourne. However the man, who was travelling with a young boy, was allowed to catch his onward connection from Melbourne to New Zealand, apparently without penalty. No charges were laid.

It’s hard to follow the reasoning, without full knowledge of each case. Sometimes jurisdictional issues are involved. If a crime is committed in international airspace on a foreign-registered carrier, the legalities can get fairly complex.

On a domestic flight solely within Australia, however, matters are cut and dried. Australian law applies.

Written by Peter Needham

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