You may be up in the air, but you’re not above the law when you’re flying. Two cases in court this week highlight the consequences for unruly in-flight antics.
On Thursday, a judge stuck a South African woman with over $15,000 in fines and costs for raising a ruckus on an Air Canada flight in December.
Nomantangwa Johansson was enroute from London to Toronto when she reportedly threw water on a passenger, called flight attendants “stupid” and “useless,” and then shoved another attendant. The pilot was forced to divert the flight to Halifax.
The passenger was angry because she couldn’t sit with her husband and her TV didn’t work.
The woman eventually pleaded guilty to mischief and endangering an aircraft. The latter charge, which exists in the Aeronautics Act, carries harsh penalties with a maximum $100,000 fine or five years in jail. She was fined nearly $6,000 and ordered to pay Air Canada another $9,400 for the cost of diverting the flight.
After sentencing, Judge John MacDougall bade a snide farewell, saying "Godspeed. Get out of here," then mused whether she'd be able to fly home by Air Canada. Whichever airline she flies, she better have a working TV.
Of course, there are other ways to entertain yourself during a flight.
On Tuesday, a Dartmouth N.S. court began hearing the case for a man and woman who allegedly tried to join the “mile-high club” on a January 2014 Air Canada flight.
We’ll spare you the graphic details (sorry), but Alicia Elizabeth Lander reportedly asked a flight attendant to change seats so she could sit near her “friend.” The move was made, and the two were soon spotted being very friendly.
After being told to put her underwear back on, a flight attendant separated the couple and Lander returned to her original seat and slept for the rest of the flight.
But RCMP officers were waiting after the flight landed and she was none too pleased. Lander allegedly cursed at officers, kicked one, tried to bite another, and booted a few holes in the wall of an interview room.
Lander’s “friend” — Jason George Chase — pleaded guilty to committing an indecent act and ironically will likely receive a less-‘stiff’ sentence. He is requesting a conditional discharge.
Lander, as you might have guessed, is putting up more of a fight. She’s going to trial and the case is expected to conclude on March 3.
There’s no shortage of recent on-board bad behaviour and penalties tend to vary.
In 2013, Darren Cosby had to pay Air Transat almost $14,000 after his drunken, violent antics forced an emergency landing in Nunavut. Cosby had thrust his pelvis at a flight attendant, punched a coffee maker, then swore, bit and threatened to slit the throats of the people restraining him.
Another headline-grabbing 2013 case involved two intoxicated Research in Motion execs, who caused an emergency diversion after unruly behaviour that ultimately saw them attempt to chew through their plastic restraints. They were first ordered to pay more than $35,000 apiece, but saw that reduced to $10,528 on appeal. In extra-legal penalties, both men lost their jobs, and one was deported.
Also in 2013, a Nova Scotia couple triggered a Sunwing flight diversion after allegedly smoking in the lavatory. The two were only fined $500 each, but Sunwing reportedly planned to sue them for estimated $40,000 in costs incurred.