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Unruly passenger must pay $123,000 to Hawaiian Air

September 5, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

An unruly passenger, whose disruptive and threatening behaviour forced a nonstop Hawaiian Airlines flight to New York to return to Honolulu, will be thinking about his conduct for a long time.

A US federal judge has ruled that the passenger, James August, of New Jersey, must repay Hawaiian Airlines for the costs it incurred in turning the plane around – including all fuel, maintenance, ground crew and charges associated with finding the passengers other flights.

The total comes to USD 97,817, which is nearly AUD 123,000.

August pleaded guilty in February to interfering with flight crew, following the midair incident last November. A federal judge has now assessed the costs and ordered August to pay, the Honolulu Star Adviser and the New York Post have reported.

The airborne incident was fairly typical of a distressing number of similar disruptions on flights in recent years. August had reportedly been drinking before the flight. He tried to order more alcohol on the plane and he drank some had brought aboard.

He had been on holiday in Hawaii with his girlfriend and her children, but it doesn’t seem to have relaxed him. Instead, he became abusive. When a flight attendant asked August to move to another part of the plane, he struck her on the shoulder with the back of his hand.

Authorities said August shouted, swore and threatened to punch his girlfriend in the face as other passengers helped restrain him. The pilot finally took the decision to turn back.

The sum that US District Senior Judge Oki Molloway ordered August to repay does not include USD 59,200 of meal vouchers Hawaiian Airlines handed out to delayed New York-bound passengers.

August is already serving three years of probation – he was sentenced to that in June.

Written by Peter Needham

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