British passenger must pay United Airlines $20,000 after threat to ‘mess up plane’ forced diversion

A British national has been ordered to pay United Airlines $20,638 in restitution after he physically threatened a crew, had to be restrained and caused a New Jersey-bound flight to be diverted to Maine.

Prosecutors say that United Airlines Flight 883 departed from London Heathrow Airport on 1 March on its way to Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey.

According to the court filing, Alexander Michael Dominic MacDonald, 30, of Chelmsford, England, was non-compliant and became physically combative towards the crew and the captain decided to reroute the flight as a result.

MacDonald could not be kept restrained even as two passengers and the flight crew worked to hold him still, the complaint states. The pilot told a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent that he thought the passenger posed a threat to his aircraft.

A British national has been ordered to pay over $20,000 in restitution to United Airlines (© 2024 Jason Fochtman / Houston Chronicle)

According to the affidavit, the man began loudly arguing with his girlfriend. A flight attendant then came over to his seat and asked him to lower his voice. MacDonald initially complied but began yelling loudly at a flight attendant a few minutes later.

A lead flight attendant intervened and tried to calm the man down but MacDonald responded by asking the flight attendant if he’d like to “have a problem” and threatened to “mess up the plane”. A passenger and the flight crew then put the man in plastic handcuffs.

However, he could not be restrained and the flight attendant determined the plane needed to be landed for the safety of the crew.

There were 150 passengers and 10 crew members on board the flight.

MacDonald pleaded guilty to interference with flight crew members and attendants on 22 March. He is currently undergoing deportation proceedings and has been in custody ever since the day of the incident.

In an emailed statement, United Airlines said the couple appeared to be intoxicated. The couple has been banned from flying with the airline. They were arrested upon arrival at Bangor International Airport. The flight continued on its way to Newark.

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