Flyer Accused of Biting Ear Off Fellow Passenger, Forcing Emergency Landing

Flyer Accused of Biting Ear Off Fellow Passenger, Forcing Emergency Landing
Joe Cortez

A United Airlines flyer is facing accusations of biting another passenger’s ear off and possession of methamphetamine, causing a flight to make an emergency landing in South Carolina. 45-year-old John Yurkovich was arrested at Charleston International Airport, after flight attendants and other passengers were allegedly forced to intervene.

After forcing an emergency landing due to allegedly biting another passenger’s ear off, a United Airlines flyer is facing at least one charge of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Charleston, South Carolina CBS affiliate WCSC reports 45-year-old John Yurkovich was arrested at Charleston International Airport (CHS) by airport police after an emergency landing.

Flyer Allegedly Became “Agitated” After Lavatory Trip, Leading to Altercation

The incident happened aboard a regularly scheduled United flight from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Miami International Airport (MIA) on Wednesday, March 18, 2021. According to eyewitnesses, the incident began when Yurkovich made a trip to the lavatory during the flight.

When he returned, those aboard say he became “very agitated,” leading him to become restless. After reportedly taking pills from his carry-on bag, he then began to “scream and thrash around.” The flyer is then accused of punching two people in the face, breaking one’s glasses and the nose of the other. The main victim – a passenger sitting beside the man – suffered a laceration to his ear, which was caused by Yurkovich allegedly biting him.

An emergency was declared, and the flight was forced to make an emergency landing at CHS. When police boarded the flight, they reportedly found Yurkovich face-down on the floor, restrained by a belt and zip-ties, with his shirt over his face. Police also found 1.5 grams of methamphetamine on his person. A man identified as a physician aboard the flight also told police he administered a shot of Benadryl with the hopes of calming down the flyer.

During his first court hearing, a judge set a $50,000 surety bond for the flyer. It is unclear if he remains in custody.

Incident Happens After FAA Expands Penalties for Badly Behaved Flyers

Yurkovich’s arrest took place after the Federal Aviation Administration extended the increased civil penalties on passengers who interfere with a flight. In addition to criminal penalties, the flyer could also face up to $35,000 in fines.

View Comments (16)


  1. cmd320

    March 18, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    Will he be banned for not wearing a mask? Or does eating a fellow passenger’s ear count as eating/drinking?

  2. MitchR

    March 19, 2021 at 5:02 am

    His defense is that he thought that he was flying on Spirit.

  3. Robt760

    March 19, 2021 at 5:38 am

    Flyer Accused of Biting Ear Off Fellow Passenger, Forcing Emergency Landing

    Sensationalism at its finest, or another example of poor proofreading ?

    In reading the article, the ear was not “bitten off”. One passenger did bite the “ear of” another passenger.

    Do some diligence…please proofread your articles before posting.

  4. Cotumely

    March 19, 2021 at 5:47 am

    Presume the ear was the most appetising thing on the plane.

  5. tkelvin69

    March 19, 2021 at 7:24 am

    Joe – a laceration is not an amputation but thanks for the hyperbole.

  6. viajero1

    March 19, 2021 at 7:32 am

    I hope the doctor doesn’t get in trouble for intervening.

  7. SaltyGB

    March 19, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Maybe we should ask Boeing/Airbus to design a human airlock to allow for the immediate departure of unruly pax?

  8. SamirD

    March 19, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Give a whole new spin on the question–is it safe to fly? You can’t have weapons on board, but you better have some sort of defense it seems.

  9. DeltaFlyer123

    March 19, 2021 at 9:45 am

    These incidents that you’ve been reporting lately are sounding more and more bizarre as time goes on. In the “good old days” (I never thought I would ever use that term), when I started flying, gentlemen wore suits, women wore dresses, children were well-behaved, and everyone was reasonably “orderly”, even with the booze flowing. I hope the passenger mentioned in the article not only gets the full $35k fine but is also banned for life from ever setting foot in a commercial airplane.

  10. Spanish


    March 19, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Flying the friendly skies!

  11. Gizzabreak

    March 19, 2021 at 11:01 am

    A light slap on the wrist, a minimal fine due to his ‘personal financial circumstances and he should be ‘good to go’ in virtually no time … maybe in the seat next to YOU (or me). There, that should teach aspiring psychos to behave.

  12. toxman

    March 19, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Maybe his punishment should be the loss of his teeth…

  13. CrimsonKnight1776

    March 19, 2021 at 11:51 am

    This is why wearing a mask is so important!

  14. flurb

    March 19, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    John Yurkovich.
    A clear case of ear today, gone tomorrow.

  15. MRM

    March 23, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    SaltyGB is on to something…I like the way he thinks!

  16. DLBryon

    March 23, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    I came for the comments, and I was not disappointed.

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