Two federal criminal cases involving unruly airline passengers: Stop drinking and behave, please! 1

Two federal criminal cases involving unruly airline passengers: Stop drinking and behave, please!

In this week’s article, we examine two criminal cases involving unruly airline passengers who were convicted of violating 49 U.S.C. 46504 which prohibits the in-flight assault or intimidation of a flight crew member or flight attendant that interferes with his or her duties. In United States of America v. Lynch, No. 16-1242 (10th Cir. (2/5/2018)) the unruly passenger “received a sentence of four months followed by a three-year term of unsupervised release”. And in United States of America v. Petras & Shaker, No. 16-11631 (5th Cir. (1/8/2018) the unruly passengers were sentenced as follows: “After a six-day trial, the jury convicted Petras and Shaker while acquitting their two co-defendants. Petras was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release, Shaker to five months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release. Both were ordered to pay restitution of $6,890 to the airline”.

Terror Targets Update

Mogadishu, Somalia

In Mohamed, Militants Linked to Al Qaeda Unleash Deadly Car Bombings in Somalia, nytimes (3/25/2018) it was noted that “Three explosions over four days in or near the Somalian capital have left a trail of carnage, killing nearly 20 people and injuring dozens of others, as Islamist militants unleashed a wave of attacks on the country”.

Lyon, France

In Man shouting, ‘I’m a terrorist’ attempts to drive into French festival crowd, travelwirenews (3/31/2018) it was noted that “A man is being questioned by police in Lyon after reportedly trying to drive into revelers attending a music festival…While the man’s vehicle did not make it past the security barriers, two police officers were injured while grappling with suspect during his arrest”.

68 Killed In Venezuela

In 68 killed in Venezuela police station riot & fire, travelwirenews (3/29/2018) it was noted that “At least 68 people have been killed at a Venezuela police station, where an apparent riot and escape attempt resulted in a fire (which) took place in the General Command of the Carabobo Police in the city of Valencia. After the fire, dozens of relatives gathered outside the station, trying to break in to get answers, reportedly forcing police to intervene”.

Water Slide Decapitates Boy

In Fortin & Haag, Water Slide That Decapitated Boy Violated Basic Design Standards, Indictment Says, nytimes (3/26/2018) it was noted that “In a rush to build the world’s tallest water slide, the operators of a Kansas park glossed over their own findings that the nearly 170-foot tall ride had major design flaws, skirted basic engineering standards and sent riders airborne in a way that could injure and kill them, investigators said. Yet the operators of Schlitterbahn Waterpark of Kansas City, Kan., opened the ride, Verruckt, in July 2014-only 20 months from its conception to grand opening. At least 14 riders were injured on the slide in a string of accidents that culminated in August 2016, when a 10-year-old boy was tossed off a raft and decapitated when he hit a metal pole. In an indictment unsealed last week, the authorities said top Schlitterbahn officials knew that the slide…posed serious dangers for riders-so much so that company officials feared for their own safety when they went on it”. Stay tuned.

Tourist Bus Crash In Bavaria

In 1 dead, over a dozen injured in bus-truck collision in Bavaria, travelwirenews (3/31/2018) it was noted that “A bus driver was killed and at least 18 others were injured after a Belgian bus collided with a truck in Bavaria…The bus was carrying 50 passengers, mainly tourists”.

Quantas Long Haul ‘Game Changer’

In Joseph, A First in Flight: Australia to the U.K., in 17 Hours, nytimes (3/25/2018) it was noted that “Quantas Airways made a giant leap forward in long-haul travel; with an inaugural nonstop flight between Australia to Britain in less than 24 hours over the weekend. Flight QF9 took off on Saturday from Perth, in Western Australia, and landed in London early Sunday morning…The flight carried more than 200 passengers and 16 crew members…The trip lasted just over 17 hours and covered 9,009 miles. Of the more than 21,000 individual items loaded onto the aircraft for each flight between Perth and London, there are 330 peppermint tea bags and hundreds of chocolate biscuits. In 1947, Quantas says, a return flight from Sydney to London cost 525 pounds. Today, a return fare from Perth to London can cost about 900 (pounds) in economy, it says”.

Sydney’s Water Supply May Be In Danger

In Why are people concerned about Sydney’s water supply?, travelwirenews (3/31/2018) it was noted that “Many environmentalists are expressing concern over Sydney’s water supply. Coal mining is affecting the region’s catchments-a network of dams, rivers, lakes and wetlands spanning 16,000 kilometers-that supply water to the country’s most populous city. Mines have operated in the region for well over a century, but recent data shows that those operating underneath the catchments are altering the landscape and impacting water stores”.

Slap That Flight Attendant, Please

In Air India cabin supervisor slaps junior for serving wrong meal, travelwirenews (3/30/2018) it was noted that “Last week on Air India flight #AI-121 from Delhi, India to Frankfurt, Germany, a senior cabin supervisor slapped a junior flight attendant for serving a non-vegetarian mean to a passenger in the business class section who wanted a vegetarian meal”.

Tesla Fatal Crash

In Tesla faces tough questions after fatal highway crash, travelwirenews (3/31/2018) it was noted that “Tesla is facing questions about the safety of its driving system after one of its vehicles was involved in a fatal crash in California last week. It’s understood the driver who died had raised concerns over the autopilot system. The Tesla Model X struck a concrete divider on a highway in Mountain View, California on March 23″.

Two Planes Crash On Tarmac

In German & Israeli jets collide in dramatic runway accident, travelwirenews (3/28/2018) it was noted that “Two passenger planes collided on the tarmac of Ben-Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv on Wednesday, leaving both aircraft stuck together by the tail. No passengers were injured, but both planes were badly damaged. The Germania airline and EL Al aircrafts smashed into each other before take-off”.

Airport Shuttle Bus Catches Fire

In Travel Chaos after bus fire at UK’s Stansted Airport, travelwirenews (3/31/2018) it was noted that “Stansted airport in the UK had to be partially evacuated after a shuttle bus caught fire, causing disruption for thousands traveling on the Good Friday holiday…Passengers said that the scene was chaotic, with thousands held inside the terminal, then put through security for a second time”.

No Toll Roads, Please

In Albanians riot over country’s first ever toll road, travelwirenews (3/31/2018) it was noted that “Hundreds of demonstrators classed with police during protests against Albania’s first ever toll road near the Kalimash tunnel in the north of the country…Rioters were throwing stones, destroying collection boxes with bats, and setting them on fire”.

Be Careful What You Ask For

In Tabuchi & Friedman, Automakers Sought Looser Rules but May Get More Than They Bargained For, nytimes (3/30/2018) it was noted that “When executives from the Big Three automakers went to the White House last spring to ask for more lenient emissions rules, their prospects looked rosy…Now, automakers are coming to terms with a startling reality: Be careful what you ask of President Trump, because he could go further than you expect. The E.P.A.’s plan, which is likely to be formally launched in coming days, is widely expected to loosen regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy well beyond what the automakers themselves had sought”.

Social Media Screening Proposed

In Chan, 14 Million Visitors to U.S. Face Social Media Screening, nytimes (3/30/2018) it was noted that “Nearly all applicants for a visa to enter the United States-an estimated 14.7 million people a year-will be asked to submit their social media user names for the past five years, under a proposed rule that the State Department issued on Friday…The proposal covers 20 social media platforms. Most of them are based in the United States”.

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

In Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 list announced in Macao, travelwirenews (3/28/2018) it was noted that The 2018 list of Asia’s Best Restaurants, sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was announced at an awards ceremony at Wynn Place, Macau. Now in its sixth year, the 2018 edition includes eight new entries. Gaggan in Bangkok claims the No. 1 spot for the fourth year, retaining the dual titles of The Best Restaurant in Asia…and The Best Restaurant in Thailand”. Enjoy.

Uber Car Testing Suspended In Arizona

In Wakabayashi, Uber Ordered to Take Its Self-Driving Cars Off Arizona Roads, nytimes (3/26/2018) it was noted that “Uber was ordered to suspend testing of its autonomous vehicles on Arizona roads Monday evening, eight days after one of its cars struck and killed a woman in Tempe. State officials said the ride-hailing service failed to meet an expectation that it would prioritize public safety as it tested the technology…Uber had already suspended all testing of its cars in Arizona, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto”.

Uber Gives Up Testing Rights In California

In Uber gives up autonomous vehicle testing rights in Calf., msn (3/28/2018) it was noted that “Uber will not renew its permit to test autonomous vehicles on California public roads when it expires Saturday. And the company will have some explaining to do if wants to get a new permit. California’s Department of Motor Vehicles told the ride-hailing service in a letter Tuesday that it will lose testing privileges after Saturday. If Uber wants to return, it will need a new permit and has to address investigations into a fatal crash in Arizona last week”.

China: Airbnb Will Share Guest Information

In Cheng, Airbnb will share guest information with Chinese authorities, cnet (3/29/2018) it was noted that “If you’re booking a room with Airbnb and heading to China, be aware that the company is giving your information to government authorities there. The home-sharing service will begin sharing data on guests, including passport information and booking dates, with the Chinese government, according to Bloomberg, which also reported that the company may disclose information on hosts as well”.

Boeing “Wanna Cry”

In Perlroth, Boeing Possibly Hit by ‘WannaCry’ Malware Attack, nytimes (3/28/2018) “Boeing said on Wednesday that it was hit by a cyberattack that some Boeing executives identified as the same WannaCry computer virus that struck thousands of computer systems in more than 70 countries around the world last year. In an internal memo, Mike VanderWel, chief engineer of Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering, said the attack was ‘metastasizing’ and worried it could spread to Boeing’s production systems and airline software”.

Taj Mahal: Visit Only 3 Hours, Please

In India limits visits to Taj Mahal to 3 hours per person, travelwirenews (3/30/2018) it was noted that “The enormous white marble tomb…can attract 50,000 visitors a day on the weekend…’Sometimes people end up spending a whole day at the Taj. This creates a situation where there are too many people’…’It is being implemented so that the movement of visitors can be regulated…The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by Muslin Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to honor his third wife Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth. It was completed in 1648″.

Brazil Prohibits Price Parity Clauses

In Booking, Decolar and Expedia reach Cease and Desist Agreement with the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense, (3/29/2018) it was noted that “The online travel agencies Booking, Decolar and Expedia have signed Cease and Desist Agreements…with the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense…in order to suspend an inquiry regarding the practice of abusive price-parity clauses in contracts signed with hotel chains that use their internet sales platforms…The price-parity clauses applied by the three main online travel agencies…aim to guarantee that they are able to offer more advantageous prices, room availability and conditions to customers, in comparison to those offered by the hotel chains in their own sales channels (online and offline) or in competing companies’ platforms. According to the studies…the parity clauses cause two main effects. It sets limits to the competition among agencies, homogenizing the final price offered to the customer and it turns the entrance of new players in the market more difficult, since strategies in that sense, such as low commission pricing, do not reflect in the final price as a result of parity”.

Want A Railway Job In India?

In Over 25 million people apply for Indian railway job vacancies, travelwirenews (3/30/2018) it was noted that “More than 25 million people, a number greater than Australia’s population, have applied for about 90,000 positions advertised by India state-run railways, underlining the challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces in providing millions of jobs ahead of the general election in 2019″.

13,000-Year-Old Footprints

In Fleur, Earliest Known Human Footprints in North America Found on Canadian Island, nytimes (3/28/2018) it was noted that “Stamped across the shoreline of Calvert Island, British Columbia, are 13,000-year-old human footprints that archaeologists believe to be the earliest found so far in North America. The finding, which was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, adds support to the idea that some ancient humans from Asia ventured into North America by hugging the Pacific coastline, rather than by traveling through the interior”.

Cheating At Cricket, Anyone?

In Wigmore, Astonishing Admission of Cheating Rocks Australian Cricket, nytimes (3/26/2018) it was noted that “It is commonly said in Australia that the captain of the national cricket team is the second most important job in the land. The role goes beyond sports; it bequeaths a certain moral authority, too. In the last 30 years, three Australian captains have won the Australian of the Year Award. There is little chance that Steve Smith, the Australian captain and one of the finest players in the country’s history, will win that award anytime soon. On Saturday. Smith acknowledged concocting a plan to tamper with a cricket ball during a series in South Africa, in an attempt to gain an unfair and illegal advantage, a revelation that has stunned a sport that has never been reluctant to seize the moral high ground”.

Travel Light, Dress Well, Please

In Vora, 5 Tips to Travel Light and Dress Well at the Same Time, nytimes (3/29/2018) it was noted that “Between the hassle of flying, jet lag and hauling luggage around, traveling is challenging enough without worrying about looking fashionable while you do it…’Anyone can look chic while traveling, and there’s no need to spend a lot or pack a lot to do it’, says Ms. Young…Here are her best tips to traveling light and looking good at the same time. Pack Clothes In three Coordinating Colors…Minimize the Shoes…Fly in Exercise Gear…Accessorize the Right Way…Bring One Dressy, Flexible Outfit”.

Where Do The Ultra Rich Go?

In Yuan, On the Costa Rican Coast, Finding Fun by Escaping Exclusivity, nytimes (3/27/2018) it was noted that “If this bio-diverse Central American country has branded itself as a playground for rich North Americans-40 percent of its tourists come from the United States-then Peninsula Papagayo, in the Guanacaste Province, is where the ultrarich go to avoid having to interact with the regular rich. The 1,400-acre luxury resort area is in a tropical dry forest, 70 percent of which is conserved as open green space. Guard stations and miles of clifflike roads separate its dwellings from any public byway. Lady Gaga and Christian Bale rang in the New Year there (separately)”.

Atlanta Held Hostage By Ransomware

In Blinder & Perlroth, A Cyberattack Hobbles Atlanta, and Security Experts Shudder, nytimes (3/27/2018) it was noted that “the City of Atlanta’s 8,000 employees got the word on Tuesday that they had been waiting for: It was OK to turn their computers on…Atlanta’s municipal government has been brought to its knees since Thursday morning by a ransomware attack-one of the most sustained and consequential cyberattacks ever mounted against a major American city. The digital extortion aimed at Atlanta, which security experts have linked to a shadowy hacking crew known for its careful selection of targets, laid bare again the vulnerabilities of governments as they rely on computer networks for day-to-day operations. In a ransomware attack, malicious software cripples a victim’s computer or network and blocks access to important data until a ransom is paid to unlock it”.

Travel Law Cases Of The Week

In the Lynch case the Court noted that “The conduct at issue occurred in 2015 when Defendant was a first-class passenger on a flight from Philadelphia to Denver. Defendant, who had consumed at least six beers prior to boarding, began behaving in a loud, unruly manner. He repeatedly placed his hands on first-class flight attendant Kimberly Ander’s lower back as she was serving him beverages, which made her feel ‘very uncomfortable’ and she tried to move out of his reach each time. Later in the flight, Defendant ‘hugged [Attendant Ander] and kissed her [her] on the neck’ on his way back from the bathroom, causing her to push him away and ask him not to do that. Even after Attendant Ander verbally asked Defendant not to place his hand on her lower back, he continued to do so. She testified that this unwanted touching emotionally impacted her ability to do her duties”.

No More Drinks For You

“Defendant’s behavior led Attendant Ander to refuse to serve him a third in-flight drink, at which point he became ‘irate’, started yelling at her, stood up from his seat and shouted profanities such as “f… this airline’. Fearful that the situation was ‘going to go over the edge and become physical or violent at any moment’, Attendant Ander called on the other flight attendants to come help her in first-class. She also prepared a rubber ice mallet, handcuffs and a pot of hot coffee to use in case Defendant became violent. Main cabin flight attendant Carolyn Scott came to assist (and) asked Defendant to calm down, at which point he repeatedly yelled ‘f…, you, c…’. Defendant also shouted, ‘let’s go’ at Attendant Scott and threatened to ‘take this airline down’ through a lawsuit and negative social media”.

Distracting The Crew

“As Defendant’s behavior escalated, the captain gave the radios to his co-pilot, so he could call ahead to dispatch and apprise them of the situation-an action that ‘[took] one half of the safety margin away’ since the co-pilot had to fly the plane, man the radios and receive weather updates without assistance during that period. Defendant t’s volatile behavior lasted for roughly the last hour and a half of the flight. Attendant Scott testified that she never returned to the main cabin to help the third attendant with the main cabin duties because she was afraid to leave Attendant Ander alone with Defendant in first class. Likewise, because of Defendant’s behavior, Attendant Ander was not able to perform all her duties as the lead flight attendant…Looking at the particular circumstances of this case, a person of ordinary intelligence could foresee that repeatedly touching a flight attendant on her lower back, hugging her and kissing her neck without her permission, screaming profanities in her face, threatening economic harm to the airline, and refusing to calm down are ‘actions which could inhibit the performance of an attendant’s duties’ (citing United States v. Tabacca, 924 F. 2d 906, 913 (9th Cir. 1991))”.


“Defendant was arrested upon landing. While in custody, he continued his vulgar exclamations and verbal attacks on the authorities. Defendant was prosecuted for violation of 49 U.S.C. 46504 and found guilty after a jury trial…we find no evidence of error. Defendant did not clearly demonstrate acceptance of responsibility because he disputed several factual contentions at trial-arguing, for instance, that his touching of Attendant Ander was meant only to get her attention and, later, as a conciliatory gesture….[’[A] defendant who falsely denies, or frivolously contests, relevant conduct that the court determines to be true has acted in a manner inconsistent with acceptance of responsibility’]…The district court also correctly considered Defendant’s pre-trial conduct, which included continued profanity, screaming and aggression toward the arresting officers who met him at the gate once the plane landed…This was not the behavior of a person who had accepted responsibility for his actions”

The Petra & Shaken Case

In the Petra & Shaker case the Court noted that “Petra and Shaker boarded a flight from San Diego to Chicago. They are Chaldean Christians who were traveling to Chicago with ten other individuals to play in a soccer tournament for Chaldean and Assyrian refugees…The behavior precipitating this case began before the aircraft departed the gate. Flight attendant Victoria Clark testified that Shaker ‘angr[il]y told her to ‘move out of the way’ as he was coming down the aisle…As the flight attendants were preparing for takeoff and giving safety demonstrations, some members of defendants’ group had their tray tables down, seats reclined, and seatbelts unfastened”.

Stop The Loud Music

“Clark had to stop her demonstration more than once to request that they put up their seats and tray tables. Shaker was playing loud music and repeatedly refused Clark’s request to turn off the music or use earbuds. Petras also stood up to use the overhead bins after the announcement that everyone must be seated…Once again, she asked Shaker to turn off his music, but Shaker refused. Petras intervened, telling Clark, ‘You can’t tell us to be quiet’”

Bring Us Some Alcohol

“Clark then began to take drink orders. One man asked about alcohol and Shaker demanded some as well by saying ‘Bring us some alcohol’. Clark refused saying she would not serve them alcohol on the flight. She claimed at trial that she was afraid alcohol would escalate the situation because the group was already boisterous and somewhat noncompliant. Some members of the group immediately protested Clark’s refusal. Shaker said, ‘We can have whatever we want’”.

Lunging At Flight Attendant

“Petras added, ‘We can have whatever the f… we want, and we’ll do whatever to get what we want’. Petras ‘slammed’ his armrest and tray table and ‘lunged’ at Clark. Petras was ‘most of the way’ from his seat, and his face ‘was even’ with Clark’s. Clark was afraid of being hurt and hurried away to find flight attendant Jamie Bergen in the front of the cabin”.

“This is America” & “Racist Pig”

“One of the group then hit the call button. Flight attendant Leslie Rouch unwittingly came from the back of the aircraft to answer their call. Petras asked her why Clark was refusing them alcohol. Rouch responded that she did not know ad would talk to Clark, but she would not serve them alcohol either. The men immediately protested. Shaker said, ‘You can’t tell us no… This is America… You can’t do that’… Rouch told them to ‘tone it down’ but Petras responded that she was a ‘racist’. Feeling ‘stunned’ Rouch walked away and heard Petras again call a ‘racist pig’ as she left. His tone was ‘hostile and hateful’”.

Diverted & Charged

The plane was diverted to Amarillo and the four men arrested. A grand jury charged the four men (and) [a]fter a six-day trial the jury convicted Petras and Shaker for violating 29 U.S.C. 46504. “Petra was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release. Shaker to five months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release. Both were ordered to pay restitution of $6,890 to the airline”.

The author, Thomas A. Dickerson, is a retired Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department of the New York State Supreme Court and has been writing about Travel Law for 42 years including his annually updated law books, Travel Law, Law Journal Press (2018), Litigating International Torts in U.S. Courts, Thomson Reuters WestLaw (2018), Class Actions: The Law of 50 States, Law Journal Press (2018) and over 500 legal articles. For additional travel law news and developments, especially, in the member states of the EU see

This article may not be reproduced without the permission of Thomas A. Dickerson.

Read many of Justice Dickerson’s articles here.

%d bloggers like this: