A few preflight drinks can get expensive rather quickly.
But for David Stephen Young, a round of six alcoholic beverages he drank before his flight from Calgary to London prompted a rash of unruly behavior, culminating in an abrupt turnaround, an arrest and a hefty fine of more than $16,000.
Young, 44, was ordered by a judge to pay WestJet for 20,000 pounds of fuel the pilot dumped over Alberta to safely land the aircraft back in Calgary on Jan. 4.
The fine came after Young pleaded guilty last week to resisting arrest and failing to comply with safety instructions during the fight, according to USA Today.
Young, a British national, tried to access the restroom during takeoff and became belligerent with the flight crew and a passenger, the paper said, citing court documents.
Passengers and the crew “were left shaken and threatened by [Young’s] behavior,” which was “verbally aggressive,” according to the court documents.
Young apologized about the “damage and inconvenience” of his behavior, USA Today reported.
WestJet declined to comment.
Young had been enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous in Britain to overcome his addiction, his attorney Michelle Parhar said Saturday, but had fallen on hard times.
His father-in-law died in the summer, and the holiday visit with his mother in Canada was coming to an end. Young would have to face other challenges at home. So he sat down at a counter at the airport and ordered a drink.
Then five more, Parhar told The Washington Post, before he got on the plane.
“He let his emotions get the best of him,” she said.
Afterward, Young was “remorseful” for his actions and how they affected the crew, other passengers and the police officers called in to assist, she said.
The actual burden to WestJet could eclipse $150,000, when including costs such as passenger reimbursement, the paper reported. Provincial Judge Brian Stevenson gave WestJet the option of pursuing damages through a civil case. The airline declined to say whether it planned to do so.
The criminal conviction means Young will have a difficult time reentering Canada to visit his mother, a 71-year-old cancer survivor, Parhar said.
“It serves as almost a complete bar” on travel to Canada, she said.