An unruly passenger who caused an American Airlines flight to turn around in April 2022 has been ordered by a US court to pay $38,952 (€35,854) in restitution to the airline.
United States District Judge Susan M. Brnovich, from the District Attorney’s Office of Arizona, sentenced 29-year-old Cayla Farris not only to pay $38,952 in restitution to American Airlines for delay-related costs due to her actions, but also to 3.6 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. For the three years of probation, Farris will also not be allowed to “travel by commercial aircraft without prior approval”, a press release form the District Attorney’s Office reveals. According to the release, Farris pleaded guilty on September 12, 2023, to interference with a flight crew member.
Farris boarded an American Airlines flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to Honolulu, Hawaii, on 13 February 2022. During the flight, she started cursing and threatening the flight crew and passengers onboard. The flight crew was unable to calm the unruly passenger or continue with their duties, so the captain ultimately decided to turn the plane back to Phoenix. Besides the delay caused to the flight Farris was on, the return of the plane to Pheonix caused several other flights to be re-routed to Hawaii.
The case was investigated by the FBI together with the Phoenix Police Department before being brought to the Arizona District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
This is not the first case of unruly passengers American Airlies has had to handle. As the number of incidents involving abusive passengers has increased post-pandemic, on the same day as Farris’ incident, on a different American Airlies flight, a 50-year-old man had to be hit with a coffee pot over the head by a flight attendant after he attempted to open the plane’s door mid-flight. FBI agents boarded the plane upon landing and took the man, who was also charged with interference with a flight crew member, into custody.