A 58-year-old New Zealand woman is facing jail time after becoming so drunk on a Qantas flight that she punched a fellow passenger, forcing the flight to turn around.
Frances Macaskill was on her way to Wellington to spend two months with her son's children, the Herald Sun reports.
The incident occurred on a Jetconnect flight, a subsidiary of Qantas, from Melbourne to Wellington. Roughly one hour into the flight, Macaskill, who had been seen drinking alcohol she bought at duty-fee, started to "yell profanities at other passengers and air crew, she then began to punch the seats in front of her in a violent manner," Stuff.co.nz reports. She then punched a male passenger in the face with a closed fist, causing a 6cm cut on the right side of his face and heavy bleeding, a prosecutor told the Daily Telegraph.
Macaskill was restrained by cabin crew, placed in flexicuffs and attached to the seat by three child seat belts so she wouldn't hurt herself. She kept swearing and even headbutted the seat in front of her. It's unknown what set her off. The pilot then decided to turn the plane around and head back to Melbourne. Police arrested her at the scene, but she was too drunk to be interviewed, The Herald Sun reports.
The incident cost the airline a whopping $19,760, according to The Daily Telegraph. Macaskill is due in court this week and faces a fine of $5,500 and a 2-year stay in jail.
Her lawyer said that Macaskill has no prior convictions and now realizes she has a drinking problem, telling a magistrate that "she completely understands the significance and seriousness of this event. She is shocked and appalled because she has no recollection of the incident whatsoever. She was extremely intoxicated." Her daughter sent a letter to the court saying that her mother's behavior was "out of character" but admitted that she had an underlying drinking problem, The Herald Sun reports.
Not surprisingly, drunk passengers on planes aren't all that uncommon. Last June, a drunk passenger was accused of peeing in the plane's aisle.
Similarly, in August, a drunk man was accused of peeing on an 11-year-old girl on a JetBlue flight. In September, a male passenger downed a pint of whiskey and then got frisky with a flight attendant. In January 2012, a Delta passenger was so drunk he got into a fight with a flight attendant. In March of this year, a drunk passenger caused an emergency landing in Nova Scotia.