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Sat, Jul 19, 2008

Pilot Tosses Drunk & Disorderly Passenger Off Plane

Makes Unscheduled Stop In Bermuda

We can't say we disagree with this pilot's reasoning. A First Choice Airways 767 made an unscheduled stop on a recent flight from London's Gatwick to Cuba July 16, to toss a disorderly passenger off the plane.

The Guardian reports the man was among a group of eight passengers who brought their duty-free liquor onboard for the long trans-Atlantic flight. When the plane reached cruising altitude, the partying began... to the consternation of the plane's flight crew, and the other 249 passengers onboard.

In fact, the group apparently became so obnoxious the captain of the flight ordered the passengers to quiet down, after attempts by flight attendants proved futile. It was at that point one of the passengers attempted to grab the handle of one of the airliner's doors, and tried to open it at FL350.

The man was restrained... and the crew decided to divert to Bermuda to offload the disruptive flyer.

"The safety of all our customers and crew is our number-one priority and First Choice Airways operates a zero tolerance policy in regard to abusive or drunken behavior on our flights," said an airline spokesperson. "In the interests of passenger safety, the captain decided to divert the plane to Bermuda to offload the passenger."

The flight's other passengers were put up in hotels overnight, before continuing on their way to Cuba on Thursday.

If this case sounds familiar, that's because of a similar incident back in December 2005 involving another drunk and disorderly passenger on a Monarch Airlines flight to Tenerife, Spain. As ANN reported, that plane's crew dumped their rowdy passenger off on the island of Porto Santo... aptly described in media reports as "a volcanic outcrop in the Atlantic."

Sadly, such incidents aren't terribly uncommon. The Guardian notes "air-rage" incidents on British airliners have more than tripled in recent years, with 2,219 reports of disruptive behavior on flights reported to the Civil Aviation Authority between 2006-2007. Those incidents resulted in 14 diversions, and 19 aborted takeoffs.

We're not sure if the incidents describe above qualify as "air-rage," or merely "air-stupidity." In any case, we offer this helpful explanation from Boeing, to anyone who thinks they might be able to open the door of an airliner at altitude.

FMI: www.firstchoice.co.uk

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