Plane diversion over nuts row 'may cost £350,000'
It may have only begun as a demand for a humble bag of nibbles, but the threatening behaviour of one unruly passenger could have gone on to cost an airline £350,000 (€492,000), a court has heard.
The full cost of diverting a packed transatlantic airliner emerged as a judge heard how a plane had to make an unscheduled stop when a passenger repeatedly demanded bags of nuts.
Alarmed by the passenger's allegedly aggressive behaviour, the pilot decided to touch down in Belfast, after first dumping 50,000 litres of aviation fuel to make the stop.
Once on the ground, the 282 passengers had to wait almost 24 hours to take off again because getting under way immediately would have broken the crew's legal flying hours limit. Jeremiah Mathis Thede appeared at Coleraine Magistrates' Court on Monday charged with endangering the safety of the aircraft, disruptive behaviour on board and common assault against a stewardess.
The court heard the United Airlines plane was en route from Rome to Chicago on Saturday when crew and other passengers raised concerns about the defendant.
A member of the airport constabulary told the court Mr Thede allegedly got up 15 minutes after take-off, with the seat belt lights still on, and demanded "nuts or crackers". He said Mr Thede, from The Alameda in Berkeley, California, refused to sit back down again until he obtained a snack.