A Miami barman has been fined for forcing a US-bound passenger plane to make an emergency landing at Shannon Airport last Tuesday afternoon.
The plane was forced to dump over 20 tons of fuel into the sea in order to make the emergency landing when Jody Bochner, age 26, became out of control and had to be handcuffed.
Bochner, from Miami, bought a liter of vodka before the flight and was consuming it from a plastic cola bottle.
The Norwegian Airline plane, with 249 passengers and 13 flight crew, departed from London's Gatwick Airport at 4pm on Tuesday and was traveling to Fort Lauderdale, Miami, when it was forced to stop.
The flight was cruising south of Co. Cork when Bochner’s behavior began to create problems. He set of the fire alarms in the restrooms while using an e-cigarette and became aggressive and abusive, trying to hit a member of the crew.
Garda Karen Walsh told Limerick District Court that the flight was 40 minutes from Gatwick airport when crew were made aware that Bochner was using an e-cigarette in the restroom.
Although he originally returned to his seat following the incident, his behavior deteriorated and he began to shout abuse and bang the seat in front of him, disturbing other passengers.
The flight eventually had to be diverted so Bochner could be escorted from the plane. The diversion resulted in $22,445 worth of fuel being dumped in the sea. The plane was then also forced to refuel once it landed in Shannon and pay costs for losing their slot and acquiring a new one in Fort Lauderdale following the delay. The total cost of the diversion was estimated at $112,225.
It is believed that Bochner purchased and drank the bottle of vodka in an attempt to get some sleep on the flight following a trip to the UK to visit his girlfriend.
Following a night spent in Shannon Garda Station on Tuesday, in which he was abusive and aggressive, Garda Walsh described Bochner as a totally different man.
Bochner’s solicitor, Stiofan Fitzpatrick, told the court, “He has no recollection of what happened and is extremely embarrassed and now a very chastened man this morning after spending a night in a cold cell.
“He realizes the seriousness of the matter and is anxious to get back to Miami where he resides with his elderly grandparents aged 84 and 94,” he added.
Bochner has been charged $1,122 for air rage in breach of the Air Navigation Transport Act 1973 and given 28 days to pay. However, Judge Aeneas McCarthy said that further fines may be awarded in another court for losses incurred by the airline.
Bochner will face 20 days in prison if he fails to pay.
H/T: Irish Examiner