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‘Belligerent’ man ordered to pay United Airlines $20K for flight diversion: DOJ

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(NEW YORK) — A British man who wreaked havoc on a United Airlines flight, forcing the flight crew to divert their landing location, must pay over $20,000 to the airline, prosecutors announced.

The charges stem from a March 1 flight that departed from London, when passenger Alexander Michael Dominic MacDonald, 30, “began arguing with his traveling companion and causing a disturbance,” according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“When flight attendants asked MacDonald to be quiet and attempted to calm him, he became belligerent, threatening and intimidating towards them,” prosecutors said.

Despite an international purser onboard the flight attempting to intervene, MacDonald continued to be “belligerent and intimidating” toward the official as well, according to prosecutors.

In the release, DOJ noted that MacDonald threatened to “mess up the plane” amid the altercation.

Due to the continued disturbance, flight crew restrained MacDonald in flex cuffs, and the flight diverted from the original destination of Newark, New Jersey, to Bangor, Maine, prosecutors said.

The U.S. District Court in Bangor sentenced MacDonald to time served after being in custody since the March 1 incident and ordered him to pay United Airlines $20,638.00 in reimbursement for the flight diversion.

When the flight landed in Maine, MacDonald and his companion were removed from the aircraft and arrested by local officials, United Airlines said in a statement at the time.

The airline noted that both passengers appeared to be intoxicated during the altercation.

The FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Bangor Police Department investigated the case, according to prosecutors.

The Federal Aviation Administration reports there have been 649 incidents of unruly passengers in 2024.

“The rate of unruly passenger incidents steadily dropped by over 80% since record highs in early 2021, but recent increases show there remains more work to do,” FAA officials said in the report.
 

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