Here’s How Much It Will Cost You To Divert A Transatlantic Flight

An American man was being disruptive on a Norwegian Air flight from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale, which caused the flight to be diverted to Shannon. What did he do? Per the Irish Examiner:

The Norwegian Air flight had been in the air for 40 minutes when cabin crew were alerted to smoke in one of the lavatories. An e-cigarette was allegedly taken from Bochner and he was returned to his seat.

Around 20 minutes later Bochner became abusive and attempted to hit one of the male cabin crew members before he was restrained and handcuffed with the help of some passengers.

Garda Walsh said the defendant was very aggressive when he disembarked around 6.15pm last evening and he smelled of alcohol. However, she acknowledged he was a totally different man this morning.

Defence solicitor Stiofan Fitzpatrick said the incident was extremely unfortunate and there was no rhyme nor reason to explaining his client’s actions. He said his client was returning to America after visiting his girlfriend in London and had taken drink to help him sleep on the long flight.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the 28-year-old has no recollection of the incident and is anxious to return to the United States as he is the sole carer for his elderly grandparents.

He was charged with threatening and abusive behavior, being intoxicated, and failing to obey directions from cabin crew. The diversion allegedly cost Norwegian €100,000. How much did the court force him to pay? Amazingly enough, only €1,000!

Perhaps this opens up a new kind of throwaway ticketing. Rather than throwing away a segment of a trip, throw away part of a flight. Just make sure traveling to that destination would cost at least €1,000 more than what you book, and make sure you time your tantrum properly. 😉

Bottom line

That seems like an awfully small punishment for such a major diversion. I was always under the impression that diverting a flight for non-medical reasons left the passenger much more liable than this.

Norwegian-787

(Tip of the hat to No Name)

Comments

  1. I feel like repartriation based punishment is a very US based idea. 100K Euro loss to an Airline and 1K Euro loss to this man may be about an equal amount of pain felt by both parties which is why the punishment was more based on the crazy guy’s means. You can argue it should have been 5K or 10K, but I’m guessing 100K fine would destroy the guy which isn’t necessary if it’s a first offense and there is true remorse.

  2. I’ve gotta agree with you on this. There should be some serious consequences for causing a diversion – at least 20x the amount he paid plus some jail time.

  3. I am surprised not more people are causing riots on Delta flights to make them change their Skypeso program.

  4. If he’s restrained, why do they need to divert? Restrain him in a seat and turn him over to the police when you land in Florida…

  5. Sounds fair to me. Because, to me, it does seem to be a medical event. You cannot reasonably destroy someone’s whole life for a drunk & disorderly and smoking an e-cig out of turn. Our society argues out of both sides of the mouth. Alcoholism is either a disease (a medical issue) or it isn’t. Mental illness is either a real disease or it isn’t. Considering he doesn’t even remember the event, it isn’t impossible that someone gave him a sleeping medication like Ambien that doesn’t mix well with alcohol — which is known to sometimes result in a change of a person’s behavior. We’ll never know. But as long as we believe that mental illness is not a “real” medical issue, we’re not going to be able to treat it effectively. Sorry for the heavy comment but if alcoholism and behavior disorders are not “real” medical events, what are they? I seriously doubt anyone chooses to have a problem that literally affects their brain and their behavior.

  6. I highlighted this result on twitter ( @michaelkelly707 ) earlier.

    Irish courts have a track record of dealing with AirRage incidents in a lenient manner. This is not the first nor will it be the last where a passenger, in my opinion, gets off way too lightly.

    Incidents such as these need to be dealt with very harshly. When a flight is diverted, it is not always about the cost to the airline. Passengers may miss connections, business meetings … I know of a case where a passenger boarded a Trans Atlantic flight enroute to the USA to try and get to a hospital where a family member was dying. Delays are never just about the money, its the effect it has on the lives of the passengers travelling

    Airlines need to set up their own “no Fly list” and anyone in any part of the world convicted in a court of law of an air rage incident should be barred from boarding any flight for ever

  7. I’ve always wondered why they divert the plane if they can restrain them. This happens all the time when people fight on a plane. Just handcuff them to a seat and deal with it when you land. Unless they are trying to take over the plane or all seats are full, it shouldn’t be that big a deal.

  8. Thanks for that tip of the hat Lcuky.

    As as I said when I first posted the links on different blog post.

    Guess the Irish just wanted to get rid of the drunken fool.

    Punishing him harder would only lead to increased costs for the Irish government, they probably feel they have spent enough money on this fool already considering what the costs police, jail and courts will be.

    @peachfront
    If he has problems with alcohol then he is probably in the wrong line of work as a bartender
    https://www.facebook.com/jody.bochner

  9. Setting aside whether repatriating costs is an appropriate punishment in a legal or moral sense, if you *are* going to reason that way, you should at least include the full costs to the other passengers as well, and not just the clear monetary costs to the airline. That is to say, the cost incurred to every other passenger in time & hassle due to the diversion. I would not be surprised if in aggregate that swamps the 100,000 EUR.

  10. I think it’s just because he was lucky, Lucky, and had an Irish rather than US court dealing with his case!

  11. Pathetic and shameful that he got off so lightly. He should’ve had the hammer dropped on him. And don’t give me this “medical” BS. No one forced him to drink.

  12. He must have been smoking a real cigarette, but by the time they caught him, he’d ditched the evidence and only had an e-cigarette. I vape on long flights in the lav which only have smoke detectors, not vapor detectors. Strange.

    @peachfront – I appreciate your (correctly) sympathetic comments regarding the disease (or not) of alcoholism. That said, behavior requires consequences – that’s the only way most alcoholics eventual face their disease/problem: too many DUIs, they lose their families, their jobs. This guy needs to be punished for his actions, and based on what his attorney implied, he’s not yet ready to admit he has a problem. Of course, the punishment needs to fit the crime.

    That said, though he can feel guilty for his behavior while drunk or blacked out, he shouldn’t feel shame over his condition. He has no control of it, which is the problem.

  13. EUR 100,000 loss? Did you do any journalism 101 and try to verify the veracity of this number? Merthinks is a made up number and you’re doing a disservice by repeating this with our pt basic verification.

  14. @John Tarik

    They did fly around and dumped fuel, question is how much?

    Max landing weight is 380,000 lb, max takeoff 502,500 lb. Max fuel is 33,340 US gal, fuel price at Gatwick is hovering around 1.70 USD/gal for Jet Fuel.

    Landing fees at Shannon? Perhaps extra cost from landing later in than planned in the US? Overtime for airport staff, US custom and immigration etc since the flight land late in the day even when it’s on route? Extra fuel burn from Shannon to US and from US to Europe if they flew at max speed instead of cruising speed to make up time? Covering food and drink for delayed passengers in the US? (Not something Norwegian is good at from what I hear)

    It all adds up

  15. Seems a big part of the cost came from missing their landing slots.

    Seriously a liter of gin?

    From Herald.ie

    Garda Walsh said the Captain “had to dump 20 tonnes of fuel at a cost of €20,000”.

    She said the fuel had to be replaced at a further cost of €20,000.

    “The airline lost its landing slots in the US and its returning slots at Gatwick which costs them €60,000,” she added.

    Solicitor Stiofan Fitzpatrick said Mr Bochner was on his way back home to the States after visiting his girlfriend in London.

    “He had planned to take alcohol and go to sleep, as it was a long haul flight. He bought a litre of gin and he placed it into a Coke bottle,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

  16. €1000 is ridiculously little.

    So what are the rights of the passengers who were inconvenienced. Using one of the scenarios laid out by @Michael Kelly, could a passenger going to visit his sick parent who subsequently passes away sue the disruptive passenger for pain and suffering. I’m assuming that some lawyer has already thought of this scenario (this flight was US bound after all). Any insights?

  17. Considering the situations we’ve heard of where the crew overreacts and diverts seemingly for little or no reason, putting the passenger on the hook for a substantial portion of the airline’s supposed cost seems unnecessarily draconian. Was this guy violent and unrestrainable? Did they need to get on the ground RIGHT AWAY to protect the other passengers? Doesn’t sound like it, once he was restrained.

    I also agree with some of the comments above that suggest we’re only hearing part of the story. Was there SMOKE? Did he become belligerent 20 minutes later unprovoked, or was “one of the male cabin crew members” giving him shit?

    You can say this passenger’s behavior ultimately racked up a considerable cost, but expecting him to pay that cost out of pocket is unrealistic.

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