Hawaiian Airlines Recovers $97,817 In Damages From Disruptive Passenger Who Caused Plane To Turn Around


A New Jersey man has to pay Hawaiian Airlines a total of  $97,817 in damages as per a federal court decision in Honolulu this week after he caused a plane to turn around in late 2016.

The man was engaged in a heated argument with his girlfriend during the flight from Honolulu to New York and start also started a fight with the flight crew after which the pilot decided to turn back to Hawaii.

Turning a flight around comes with significant costs, in the very least for staffing, maintenance and refueling.

The Honolulu Star Adviser (access here) now reported the man who already got sentenced to 3 years probation now owes the airlines close to 100k in damages.

A passenger whose disruptive behavior prompted the pilot of a nonstop flight to New York to return to Honolulu in November owes Hawaiian Airlines $97,817, a federal judge ruled Monday.

James August of New Jersey pleaded guilty in February to interfering with flight crew members and flight attendants. The government says August’s disruptive behavior started before the airplane left the ground.

During the flight he threatened his girlfriend, her children, other passengers and crew members, and had even made contact with a flight attendant on her shoulder with the back of his hand. U.S. District Senior Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced August in June to three years of probation.

On Monday she ordered August to repay Hawaiian Airlines the extra costs it incurred for turning its plane around. Those costs include fuel, maintenance, ground crew, replacement flight crew, landing fee and re-catering.

The restitution also includes what Hawaiian paid to find seats for passengers on other airlines. But it does not include $46,900 worth of meal vouchers the carrier handed out to the delayed New York-bound passengers and the passengers scheduled to take the return flight to Honolulu.

It appears Hawaiian is rather generous with their meal vouchers. Let’s assume 250 passengers each way that’s close to $100 per head. Whenever I flew on a US carrier and had a disruption I can’t ever recall having received a voucher for more than $20. Good to know for the future.

In any case this was certainly an expensive flight for the defendant in this case. Costs in such instances quickly add up. Price wise he’d have been better off to charter a private jet and start his rant there (or just take a xanax and sleep off his frustration).


Sounds like the perfect start into a blissful holiday to travel with this guy. People should consider what consequences can follow from their actions when starting a ruckus on the plane including loud arguments, fights and smoking in the lavatory.

Paying off 100k for such a stint seems to be hardly worth it apart from the 3 years probation. It wasn’t mentioned if the passenger has been place on a security list or been banned from Hawaiian altogether.

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