It’s nice to see a passenger actually get a bill once in a while for causing a diversion. Here, a woman must pay American Airlines nearly $39K for threatening a flight attendant and other passengers on an American Airlines flight to Hawaii.
Passenger Held Accountable For Causing Flight Diversion On American Airlines
29-year-old Cayla Farris boarded an American Airlines flight on February 13, 2022 traveling from Phoenix (PHX) to Honolulu (HNL). Once in the air, Farris used profanity and threatened a flight attendant as well as other passengers onboard. It is not clear if she was intoxicated.
The captain deemed the situation so volatile that he diverted back to Phoenix, delaying everyone onboard and causing several passengers to misconnect.
Farris was later charged and now has pleaded guilty to interference with a flight crew member. As part of her guilty flee, she was sentenced to a time-served sentence of 3.6 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
During her three-year supervised release period, Farris will not be permitted to travel by commercial aircraft without prior approval. She was ordered to pay $38,952 in restitution to American Airlines for the costs it incurred as a result of her delay.
Good News. Accountability Is Reasonable
Farris got off relatively easy considering the crime she pleaded guilty to carries a punishment of up to 20 years in jail and a much larger fine. On the other hand, the $38,952 strikes me as a fair amount for American Airlines to compensate for the extra fuel and labor costs as well as the cost to re-route passengers whose plans were spoiled by the delay.
If every passenger who caused a disturbance was fined like this, I do think we would see even fewer incidents onboard. Already, 2023 has been a dramatically better year for in-flight behavior than in 2021 and 2022. While nearly 6,000 incidents were reported in 2021 and about 2,500 in 2022, this year has seen only 1,820 reported incidents. While still significantly higher than the pre-pandemic numbers, the numbers are moving in the right direction.
A Hawaiian resident has been ordered to pay $38,952 to American Airlines for her behavior onboard which led to a flight diversion. I am happy to see passengers held accountable for their poor behavior onboard.