Family charged, fined for smoking on Sunwing flight

Feb 5, 2013 | News

Photo courtesy of Guillaume Lemoine

Photo courtesy of Guillaume Lemoine

By Christian Quequish with files from Sarah Rix

Reaction continued Tuesday to news that a Sunwing flight from Halifax to the Dominican Republic was forced to land in Bermuda on Friday night because a family was smoking cigarettes in an airplane bathroom.

David MacNeil, 54, Darlene MacNeil, 52, and David MacNeil Jr., 22, appeared in plea court Monday in Hamilton, Bermuda, according to a CBC news report.

The three have been charged with violating the Air Navigations (Overseas Territories) Order.

“As soon as you light that match, it goes off in the cockpit,” said James Passant, coordinator for avionics and professional pilots program at Centennial College, to Sarah Rix, @HumberNews reporter.

He said the idea of smoking on a plane “just seems idiotic [because] aircrafts are so closely monitored on the interior.”

As well, finding hotel rooms for passengers at both ends of the flight as a result of delays would need to be considered, Passant said.

“The people on that aircraft have to be put up, you’re looking at 130-140 people,” he said.

John McKenna, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association, told @HumberNews that airlines would usually charge offending passengers for “unruly behaviour.”

“It happens maybe once in a while,” he said, adding “most passengers are reasonable and just want to get home.”

He said that if a passenger has been drinking prior to the flight and is intoxicated, that customer is not allowed on the flight.

The Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that the MacNeil couple have been charged $500 each with an understanding that they pay the fine within 10 days.

Besides smoking, there are other reasons people can get get kicked off airplanes.

The website FareCompare says the list could include:

1. Obscenities (both verbal and visual)
2. Bad body odor
3. Illness or just looking sick
4. Being too fat or too thin
5. Making passengers or crew uncomfortable