A passenger who helped restrain an out-of-control man on a transatlantic flight that diverted to Shannon Airport earlier this week has spoken about the incident.
On Tuesday night, the crew of Norwegian Airlines flight NAX-7045 made a U-turn over the Atlantic and diverted to Shannon to have the drunk and abusive passenger removed from the aircraft.
Jody Bochner (28), a barman in Miami, Florida, was arrested at Shannon and appeared before Limerick District Court on Wednesday where he was fined €1,000.
The Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner jet, with 249 passengers and a crew of 13 on board, was en route from Gatwick in England to Fort Lauderdale in the U.S. at the time of the incident.
Mr Bochner came to the attention of cabin crew, about 40 minutes into the flight, when he activated a toilet fire alarm with an e-cigarette.
Limerick District Court heard: “He (Bochner) was very aggressive and he leapt from his seat and attempted to strike a cabin crew member. The cabin crew restrained him and placed in him handcuffs.”
A man sitting across the aisle from Mr Bochner has spoken of how he helped overpower and restrain the intoxicated man. Bochner was handcuffed and strapped into his seat.
Sean Barrett said: “This guy was talking very clearly to the couple next to him when all of a sudden he just changed completely. His speech was slurred and eyes were very dilated. He then started to hit the chair in front of him screaming ‘I hate you’ but there was nobody in the chair.”
“When a couple of air stewards came over, they were really friendly with him and attempted to calm him down but he was calling them “assh***s” amongst other names.
It then took a turn for the worst when he struck one of the stewards and that is when I jumped up to assist them with restraining the guy. I held onto his arms from behind whilst they put the cuffs on him but he was putting up a pretty good fight,” Mr Barrett said.
“The captain came out to speak to him and he wouldn’t listen to anything the captain said. This is when it was decided that we had to turn back and fly into Shannon. After landing, the Gardai came on and escorted him off the plan and then took statements from several stewards and myself,” he added.
The flight crew had to dump 20,000 litres of aviation fuel over the Atlantic to ensure the airplane touched down within safe landing weight limits. The court how the entire cost of the diversion was around €100,000.
His solicitor, Mr Stiofan Fitzpatrick told the court: “He (Bochner) had planned to take alcohol and go to sleep, as it was a long haul flight. He bought a litre of gin and he placed it into a Coke bottle. It seems it had the opposite effect on him.”
Judge Aeneas McCarthy convicted and fined Bochner €1,000 for being threatening, abusive and insulting on board the flight.
The judge took charges of being drunk on the flight and engaging in offensive behaviour into account while Bochner has 28 days to pay the fine or spend 30 days in prison in default.