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Flyer Handed $49,793 Penalty for Threatening to Kill United Flight Attendant

Flyer Handed $49,793 Penalty for Threatening to Kill United Flight Attendant
Joe Cortez

A flyer who threatened to kill a United Airlines flight attendant mid-flight will be compelled to pay the airline $49,793 for costs associated with diverting to Anchorage. 52-year-old Seksan Kumtong will face five years of probation, and pay the airline the cost of accommodating everyone affected.

A California flyer who threatened to kill a United Airlines cabin crewmember will spend the next five years on federal parole and pay the airline $49,753 for forcing a diversion to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). The Anchorage Daily News reports 52-year-old Seksan Kumtong will accept the penalties after pleading guilty to one charge of interference with flight crew members.

Flyer Became Agitated After Being Refused Service, Leading to Physical Altercation

According to court reports, Kumtong was flying aboard United Flight 32 on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, traveling from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT). During the flight, the crew said Kumtong was acting strangely, and decided it was best to stop serving him alcohol. After a nap, the flyer requested another drink, but was denied.

The FBI affidavit says that’s when he became agitated, and started to attack the crew. He hit one of the flight attendants in the face, took them to the floor, and threatened to kill them, among other obscenities.

After the altercation, the flight was ultimately diverted to Anchorage, where Kumtong was taken into custody. In turn, United was forced to give 214 passengers and the flight crew meals and a hotel stay.

Attorneys defending Kumtong say that he was suffering from uncontrolled diabetes, which can lead to “severe hypoglycemia and consequent combativeness” when consuming alcohol. Despite the explanation, the flyer still plead guilty to the single count.

As part of his sentence, Kumtong will be forced to pay United $49,793 in restitution for the diversion. The airline said the sum was the cost of accommodating everyone after making the emergency landing. However, Kumtong will avoid jail time because his diabetes puts him at a high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Government Agencies Stiffen Penalties for Flyers Behaving Badly

Although Kumtong was involved in an isolated incident, other airborne events this year have forced officials to increase penalties on those behaving badly at 30,000 feet. In January 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration increased the fines for aggressive or unruly behavior on flights to up to $35,000, and may refer cases for criminal prosecution.

View Comments (6)

6 Comments

  1. arcticflier

    February 18, 2021 at 5:03 am

    Diabetes is sure Lousy but its so much fun to combine it with the mad rush of alcohol to truly experience the high-lows of this illness.

  2. jficht

    February 18, 2021 at 5:43 am

    It’s about time.

  3. DeltaFlyer123

    February 19, 2021 at 8:25 am

    Seems to me he needs to go to jail. Surely, threatening threatening to kill someone is a criminal offense

  4. 96SS

    February 20, 2021 at 10:12 am

    So, was he fined for the diversion, or for threatening the flight attendant?

  5. RUAMKZ

    February 23, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    Using the “diabetes card” to avoid jail time? Smacks of a scam, here……

  6. Dublin_rfk

    February 23, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    I don’t have diabetes but I always have something to prevent sugar and mood swings. That said there are more than a couple of UA FAs that are still alive only by the grace of God and poor marksmanship.

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