Unruly Passenger Owes Hawaiian Airlines $98,000 For Interfering With Flight Crew

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The next time you’re even thinking about doing something you shouldn’t on an airplane, take a second and ask yourself: Is this worth tens of thousands of dollars? One Hawaiian Airlines passenger has learned not to mess with flight crew the hard way, and is now on the hook for almost $98,000.

A federal judge ordered a passenger whose disruptive behavior forced the pilot of a flight from Honolulu to New York to turn the plane around last November to pay Hawaiian Airlines $97,817, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He’d pleaded guilty in February to interfering with flight crew, and has also been sentenced to three years of probation.

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His bad behavior started before the plane took off, officials said, and he then threatened his girlfriend, her kids, other passengers, and crew members once the flight as in the air. He was also accused of making contact with a flight attendant on her shoulder with the back of his hand.

U.S. District Senior Judge Susan Oki Mollway ordered the man to repay the airline for the extra costs of having to turn the plane around, including fuel, maintenance, ground crew, replacement crew, landing fee, other costs.

That $98,000 is also going to cover what Hawaiian paid to rebook passengers on other airlines, but it doesn’t include the $46,900 worth of meal vouchers the airline gave to delayed passengers heading to New York and those who were supposed to be on the return flight to Honolulu.

Every time an unruly passenger prompts a flight diversion or emergency landing, it hits airlines hard: It can cost up to $200,000 to cover all the expenses involved.

Not all airlines will go after passengers to recoup those costs, however, as doing so could hurt the airline in the long run.