Drunks On A Plane: Inebriated Concert Pianist Threatens To Murder Flight Attendant

David S. Howell must have thought he was so smooth: Sneaking a water bottle full of vodka onto a full United flight out of Chicago. Too bad he drank most of its contents in the first 30 minutes, then threatened to kill a male flight attendant.

Here’s what not to do when you’re a concert pianist on an airplane and you’re still drunk from last night. Don’t:

• Sneak more alcohol on the plane in a sports bottle, then ask for a glass of ice.
• Lie to the flight attendant when he asks if you’re drinking alcohol with your “glass of ice with lime.”
• Wash your ADD meds down with vodka and a Valium chaser.
• Play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2 on your tray table.
• Pound on the walls of the lavatory like some sort of giant ape.
• Threaten to kill a flight attendant.
• Scribble weird messages all over your sheet music.
• Push a flight attendant in the chest causing the airline to land the plane so you can be arrested
• Resist arrest by locking your arms and legs under your seat.
• Go limp and refuse to walk so the officers have to carry you to the waiting squad car.

Really, any of these things are pretty bad. Taken together and you’ve got one drunk concert pianist. When asked to explain himself in court, Howell said:

“I really can’t argue with anything,” Howell told U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Thursday as he pleaded guilty to charges of interference with flight crew members. “You can’t argue with things when you’re in that state of mind.”

True, true. —MEGHANN MARCO

Pianist admits to interference on flight [Billings Gazette]

RELATED: Drunks On A Plane: How Not To Behave On A 6 Hour Flight


Edit Your Comment

  1. mikesfree says:

    This is exaclty why I stopped flying ;)

  2. notebook says:

    The water bottle would have to be open for him to put vodka in it, right?
    Wow, nice security.

    Last time I flied, I had to throw out the two bottles of water(closed) before I was allowed on the flight.

    United is Slacking again.

  3. vr4z06gt says:

    Wow that is hilarious! I would love to have been on that flight…

    you can still get alcohol on a plane, im using philly as my reference but im sure most other large airports have the same setup, once inside security go to a duty free shop, at the international terminal, and buy a small bottle of liquor then at a convience shop buy a bottle of water and change the contents they will be none the wiser till its to late.

  4. not_seth_brundle says:

    @vr4z06gt: You’re only supposed to be able to shop at duty-free if you’re flying internationally. But you can bring alcohol through security if you put it in 3 ounce containers in your ziploc.

  5. oldhat says:

    1) I thought no water bottles?!? They make me throw all mines away, but I haven’t flown for a few months, thankfully.

    2) Getting drunk to the point…well…to this point, clearly…ought to be punished more severely. Society has no issue with poisoning yourself to the point where you are essentially psychotic? Drunks are timebombs waiting to happen, yet potheads need only be protected from the snacks.

    3) mikesfree: of all that other shit, this is why you don’t fly?!?

  6. vr4z06gt says:

    really i’ve never purchased at a duty-free shop but i always walk past them and see the alcohol in there figured anyone could buy.

  7. faust1200 says:

    He needed his ADD meds to get to the airport? (says the article)What does he take before he plays piano? Pure meth? Most ADD meds are some sort of stimulant. So this guy was on speed, alcohol and valium – ha! No wonder he was flippin out. Well it hasn’t been said yet so: Get this motherfuckin pianist of this motherfuckin plane. Ok.

  8. hemaphore says:

    meds + alcohol = crrrrrrrazy

    i don’t do meds but i’ve seen people that take them and drink afterwards and they are out of their freakin’ minds. i’ve almost called 911 on a couple of them….

    …now i just leave when the alcohol comes out…

  9. Where did he hide the water bottle in his (ugh) cavity?!

    When I last flew, everyone had to throw away all H2O bottles! AND,submit to a cavity search…or was that just ME?!

    The Pianist was trying to be cost effective. Imagine the cost of about 30 or so of those little airplane bottles of vodka!


  10. This is far and away the best part:

    “Scribble weird messages all over your sheet music.”

  11. Trai_Dep says:

    He does all this with legal prescriptions and alcohol, and an ample helping of being an asshole.

    You know, why don’t we just legalize all drugs. Save a billion per year, empty our prisons. The Libertarians are right (in this one, teensy-tiny instance).

    Sort of relieved he didn’t flash his manties or defacate on the serving cart though. So point for his sense of decorum.

  12. hills says:

    United slacking off? They’re not in charge of screening for water bottles…

    Besides the point anyway, since this was all back in 2005, which I believe was before the-everything-has-to-fit-in-a-tiny-ziploc-bag days

    those were the good ol’ days!

  13. mac-phisto says:

    you know, this once i’m gonna stick up for this guy. from some of the other stories on here, it sounds like you have to be pretty drunk to stomach a flight on united.

    there’s got to be another side to this. like, maybe he was banging on the lavatory doors b/c the attendant thought he was dead & locked him in. maybe he wasn’t resisting arrest, maybe he was just trying to help clean up. maybe he was refusing to disembark b/c he was afraid of being left in the middle of nowhere.

    ok, maybe he was just too drunk & should’ve sprung for 1st class where they shower you with gourmet food & top-shelf alcohol is on tap to wash down your med buffet.

  14. homerjay says:

    If I had a nickel for every time a concert pianist threatened to kill a flight attendant……

  15. erock0 says:

    everyone’s making these pro-drug comments on the HIGHest of holidays :)

  16. Hoss says:

    Is anyone else seeing an ad for “Piano Bar” in the middle of this story??

  17. AcidReign says:

    …..Well, I’ve had music directors who made us scribble weird stuff on our sheet music, too. Crazy stuff like: “ffp

  18. riggs says:

    “Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf—ing concert pianists on this motherf—ing plane!”

  19. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @trai_dep: You fool! You’ll just encourage them!

    My husband is a Wikipedia administrator, and when I read him this story he was briefly terrified that we were witnessing the return of Ronnie Segev. Imagine ReputationDefender trying to keep that off the wiki.

  20. @CumaeanSibyl: I had to Google Ronnie Segev. What an interesting story! And by “interesting,” I mean, “What a total dork.”

  21. SpyMaster says:

    Sounds like a normal concert pianist to me.

  22. homerjay says:

    @riggs: That was great.

  23. @riggs: You win the thread.