A Canadian flyer is finding out the hard way that being disruptive and causing a flight to divert back to its origin airport has an expensive cost. After a plea deal was set, prosecutors are seeking over $13,500 in damages for lost fuel, airline staff overtime wages and the use of two U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets as escorts over his drunken outburst in the skies.
A flyer who became drunk and disruptive on a Sunwing Airlines flight from Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) to Cayo Coco Jardines del Rey Airport (CCC) in Cuba could be forced to repay the airline for returning him to Canada. The Montreal Gazette reports 41-year-old Charalabos Nassios is asking the court not to assess him a financial penalty after pleading guilty to charges against him.
Nassios was originally arrested on July 6, 2017, after the aircraft he was aboard returned to YUL when he had a disruptive outburst in air. Social media videos obtained by CTV News show the man struggling against police, as well as F-15 fighter jets scrambled from Barnes Air National Guard base in Massachusetts escorting the commercial jet back to the airport. Two months after the incident, Nassios plead guilty to assault and making threats.
During a pre-sentencing hearing, prosecutors requested three years of probation, during which time the flyer could not leave Quebec. In addition, they are seeking $17,400 CAD (approximately $13,531.78) in damages. The fees would cover fuel costs incurred by Sunwing, landing fees for the emergency diversion, overtime for airline employees and hotel costs for the 170 flyers impacted by Nassios’ behavior.
Attorneys defending Nassios claim assessing the additional fine on top of the sentence would be akin to “putting obstacles in his future path.” In arguments, the defense claims the bad publicity and the flyer’s bankruptcy as a result of his arrest have already penalized him. Nassios will be formally sentenced on April 18, 2018.
This is not the first time prosecutors have sought additional reparations after flyers go bad in the skies. Chinese officials have warned flyers who misbehave that civil and criminal penalties could await them when they return home.