Another datapoint to be sober-minded when you travel: one man must now pay $21,260.68. To start…
David Young, who has battled alcohol problems for years, consumed six alcoholic drinks prior to boarding his WestJet flight from Calgary to London last month. Immediately after takeoff, while the seatbelt light was still on and plane rapidly ascending, Young made repeated attempts to use the lavatory. Although flight attendants advised him it was unsafe, he tried to force open lavatory doors that were locked shut. A short time later, he became “aggressive” with a flight attendant and another passenger. This included coarse language and swearing.
The crew opted to divert the flight, but had to dump about 20,000 pounds of fuel first.
Young was arrested upon landing in Calgary and later pleaded guilty to failing to adhere to safety instructions and resisting arrest. Now has been sentenced to pay restitution to WestJet and serve two additional days in jail.
Lori Ibus, the prosecutor, told USA Today:
Mr. Young was sentenced to one additional day of jail on each count, considering the seven days he spent in pretrial custody…” He was also ordered to pay WestJet $21,260.68 in restitution as part of his sentence. This amount represents the cost to WestJet for the fuel costs relating to the having to return to Calgary International Airport.
But $21,260.68 is a just a slap on the wrist. WestJet estimates that the diversion cost the company over $200,000 when the full fuel and passenger compensation costs are factored in. Now WestJet can choose to go after Young civilly for that amount.
Of course the word “sober-minded” in my opening paragraph remains much more than avoiding alcohol. There are so many snares when we find ourselves traveling in a confined space with tight legroom and little elbow room. But every time I read one of these stories is a reminder to think twice about that extra drink before boarding a flight or once onboard.