Have you ever been on a flight with a disruptive passenger? Maybe so, but you've probably never encountered one quite as disruptive as 25-year-old Chloe Haines, who terrified fellow passengers in June when she attempted to open an emergency door while a Jet2 plane was in the air over the North Sea. Not only has she been arrested, but the airline just sent her a bill for 85,000 pounds, or about $106,000, for the trouble she caused. And it seems determined to collect.
Haines, a resident of Maidenhead, England, who works for the Costa Coffee chain, boarded a Jet2 flight from London's Stansted airport to Dalaman on the Turkey coast. She was traveling with her wheelchair-bound grandmother. Witnesses described her walking down the airplane's aisle and then suddenly rushing to the emergency exit and attempting to open it. Two crew members pulled her away from the door, but she fought them off with surprising strength, so several fellow passengers restrained her by holding her arms and legs and in one case sitting on her. She was reportedly shouting "I'll kill you all!" She reportedly attempted to storm the airline's cockpit as well.
Plane returns to Stansted.
The airline crew was understandably alarmed, and they chose to turn the plane around and return to Stansted. Meantime, they had issued a hijack alert and two British fighter jets were scrambled to escort the Jet2 plane, traveling so quickly that they broke the sound barrier, creating a sonic boom that could be heard miles away.
When the plane landed at Stansted, Haines was arrested on suspicion of common assault, criminal damage, and endangering an aircraft. She's been released on bail and is awaiting a hearing July 30. But Jet2 is not waiting for her day in court--it's publicly announced that Haines is banned from the airline for life and has been sent a bill for 85,000 pounds. Because this was one of the "most serious cases of disruptive passenger behavior that we have experienced," Jet2 CEO Steve Heapy said in the statement, "we will vigorously pursue to recover the costs that we incurred as a result of this divert, as we do with all disruptive passengers."
Sarah Stewart, a London aviation lawyer told the New York Times that diverting an airplane can cost an airline between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds, so the bill may be in line with the airline's actual costs, which included putting people in Turkey up in hotels as they had to wait an extra day for what would have been the return flight to London. But the point of the invoice seems to be to strike fear into the heart of any other passenger who might be planning to have a meltdown mid-flight. Especially since, according to Stewart, disruptive passenger events are on the rise.
"We hope that this sobering incident, with its very serious consequences, provides a stark warning to others who think that they can behave in this fashion," Heapy said. Especially if they don't have a spare $100,000 lying around.