A U.K. woman will spend two years in jail after threatening to “kill” everyone on board a Jet2 flight last summer and attempting to open the emergency exit, which triggered a hijack alert and diverted an escorted landing with two RAF fighter jets.
Traveling with her grandmother on a June 22 Jet2 flight, the 26-year-old woman reportedly exploded with “aggressive, abusive and dangerous behavior” roughly 45 minutes after takeoff. A distraught Haines tried to open the plane’s emergency exit, physically lashed out at flight attendants and screamed she was going to “kill everyone” on board.
Witnesses described Haines as acting “possessed” and said that many of the 206 passengers feared for their lives, per BBC.
Two Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter planes rushed to escort the commercial aircraft in making an emergency landing in Essex, England, while the woman was physically restrained for the rest of the trip.
Video footage of the woman’s shocking outburst, shared to YouTube by The Sun, shows Haines indiscernibly screaming as she was held in a seat by others.
There was “no question that she was drunk” defense lawyer Oliver Saxby said during a December appearance at Chelmsford Crown Court in Chelmsford, England, describing the charge of endangering the aircraft as the “more serious alternative.”
Prosecutor Michael Crimp alleged that Haines admitted to mixing alcohol with medication, recalling that she “blacked out and didn’t really remember what happened,” according to Metro.
Haines previously pleaded guilty to endangering the aircraft and assaulting a cabin crew worker.
At the Wednesday sentencing, Judge Charles Gratwicke emphasized the severity of Haines’ actions.
“Those that are trapped in the confined space of the aircraft will inevitably be distressed, frightened and petrified by the actions of those who in a drunken state endanger their lives,” Gratwicke said. “For some, it will be their worst nightmare come true.”
Haines was also served a $106,000 fine and banned from flying with Jet2 for life.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Jet2 shared the following statement on behalf of Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.
“We welcome today’s decision and we are pleased to see the courts taking the issue of disruptive passenger behavior as seriously as we do. The safety of our customers and our colleagues is of paramount importance to us and today’s sentencing sends out a serious warning; there are always consequences if you act in a disruptive or unsafe fashion on board an aircraft,” Heapy said.
“Ms. Haines’ behavior was one of the most serious cases of disruptive passenger behavior that we have experienced, and we have banned her from flying with us for life,” he continued. “Her actions caused distress for customers as well as our crew, and as a family-friendly airline carrying millions of holidaymakers every year, we simply will not tolerate this on our flights.”
“It is evident that excessive alcohol consumption was a contributing factor in this incident,” Heapy said. “We have been leading the industry to tackle the issue of drinking to excess in the airport before flying, as well as the illicit consumption of duty-free alcohol on board the aircraft, for some time”