A passenger that was so disruptive he forced a jetliner to turn around must now pay almost $100,000.
Flying from Honolulu to New York, James August of New Jersey was witnessed cursing and threatening his girlfriend, her children, other passengers, and the crew. It didn’t help that he’d had quite a bit to drink as well.
On Monday, Aug. 28, a federal judge ordered him to pay Hawaiian Airlines restitutions to the sum of $97,817. He was already sentenced to three years of probation in June for the federal crime of interfering with duties of flight crew members and attendants, Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.
August had drunk alcohol before he boarded the Nov. 29 flight, a passenger told an FBI investigator, according to the agent’s affidavit.
He boarded with his girlfriend and her three children, but they refused to sit in their assigned seats next to him and moved to seats one row behind. “Can you please just keep him away from us?” one of the children, an 11-year old boy, told a female flight attendant.
August drank two small bottles of alcohol, swallowed an unidentified pill, and went on to yell at his girlfriend. The flight attendant told him that if he was going to be a problem, the pilot would taxi him back to the gate and disembark him. He said there was no problem.
But there was.
August tried to order more booze and also drank some more from his own stash he brought aboard. He called his girlfriend and her children names and made threats towards them, other passengers, and the crew.
The flight attendant asked August to follow her to a different part of the plane, but he said he wouldn’t go anywhere and told her to “carry on.” When she stood her ground he slapped her shoulder with the back of his hand.
Two male flight attendants then removed August from the area and took turns guarding him. The captain sent August a message via the crew: If he was not to cooperate an “action would be taken.” But that only made August more aggressive.
At that point the captain decided to turn the flight around.
The flight attendants recruited able bodied passengers to help keep a guard on August until he was picked up by the FBI at the Honolulu International Airport.
In February, when a federal judge asked him what happened he said, “I don’t remember much, your honor,” Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.