Unruly British passenger ordered to pay WestJet’s $21,000 fuel bill
The unruly Brit whose antics forced a London-bound WestJet flight to return to Calgary must pay the airline more than $21,000, a judge ruled Tuesday.Provincial court Judge Brian Stevenson said if the Calgary-based airline wishes to recuperate any further damages, it will have to take David Stephen Young to civil court.Stevenson said the $21,260.68 restitution order he imposed on Young represents the cost of fuel WestJet lost when it rerouted the Jan. 4 flight back to Calgary.Young, 44, pleaded guilty last week to charges under the Aeronautics Act and the Criminal Code in connection with his conduct on the flight and upon his arrest at Calgary International Airport.The U.K. native became unruly shortly after the flight took off, when he got up to use a lavatory while the seat belt signs were still on. A flight attendant told him to return to his seat and, while he did, Young got up again and forced his way into a locked washroom while it was unsafe to do so.He was also belligerent with flight staff and a passenger, causing them to fear for their safety, Stevenson noted.Because the plane was fully loaded with jet fuel, the pilot had to dump 20,000 pounds of fuel and then fly around at different altitudes for 45 minutes to burn enough to safely land.At that, the airplane still had 2,000 more pounds of fuel than its maximum safe landing amount, the judge noted.Stevenson said the restitution order, which WestJet can try to en- force in civil court either here or in the U.K., was needed to compensate the airline for some of its losses.“But also to send a message to the general public about what will happen if they break the law in a similar fashion,” he said.He agreed with Crown prosecutor Lori Ibrus and defence counsel Michelle Parhar that the seven days Young spent in custody at the Calgary Remand Centre after his arrest was adequate punishment.When given credit for so-called dead time, the punishment amounts to a 10-day jail term.Stevenson said there were both aggravating and mitigating factors to consider in coming to a fit punishment for Young, including his prompt guilty plea and the media attention his case has received both here and in Britain.Ibrus told the judge that Young will be sent back to his homeland in the next few days.On top of the fuel cost, WestJet’s total losses are expected to exceed $200,000 in passenger compensation, which it can seek from Young in a civil lawsuit.
David Stephen Young
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