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A federal judge has ordered a man to pay a fine of almost $100,000 to Hawaiian Airlines after his unruly behavior forced the crew to return back to Honolulu (HNL) on a New York-bound flight.
In February, James August plead guilty to interfering with flight crew members and flight attendants. He began serving three years of probation in June and was ordered to pay the $97,817 fine on Monday.
The incident occurred in November of 2016 on the Hawaiian daily nonstop flight between Honolulu (HNL) and New York (JFK), operated by an Airbus A330.
An FBI affidavit revealed that an intoxicated August had threatened his girlfriend, her children, passengers and flight attendants and crew members. He also hit a flight attendant on the shoulder — August had been drinking before the flight and continued while on board. Other passengers had to restrain August and at that point the captain was forced to turn the flight around and land at HNL.
August says he doesn’t remember the incident but did not dispute its occurrence.
The fine is meant to reimburse Hawaiian for the losses incurred to turn the plane back. Costs included fuel, maintenance, ground crew, a new flight crew and re-accommodating passengers on other flights. The penalty did not cover the $46,900 in meal vouchers that the carrier gave to affected passengers.
Travelers can face up to twenty years in prison and $250,000 in fines for interfering with flight crew members.
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