$50,000 for smoking one cigarette? I certainly hope so


Credit: Bernews.com

Meet the MacNeils.  This family decides to smoke on a plane forcing the pilot to do an emergency landing.  

CBC News reports

David MacNeil, 54, Darlene MacNeil, 52, and David MacNeil Jr., 22, appeared in plea court in Hamilton, Bermuda, Monday after they were accused of smoking on a flight. All three were charged with disobeying lawful commands under the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order.

MacNeil Sr. pleaded guilty to behaving in a disorderly manner and using abusive and insulting words. Darlene MacNeil pleaded guilty to disobeying lawful commands. David MacNeil Jr. was charged with smoking on the plane.

“During the course of that flight, from my understanding of what the situation is, the flight attendants could smell cigarette smoke off, I guess it was MacNeil Jr. — but if they smelled that, we’ve been trained to deal with these types of things,” he said.

“Smoking onboard aircraft is an extreme safety issue, it poses an extreme safety risk to everyone on board the aircraft and we do take it very seriously.”

Brancelj said he wouldn’t speculate on whether the flight crew overreacted to the situation.

“When it comes to the safety onboard of everyone there, you have over 180 passengers onboard the aircraft plus the crew itself. Smoking can cause a fire and an airplane is the worst place for that to happen. They take their job very seriously when it comes to the safety of the passengers and themselves and I’m sure they did everything that they thought was justified,” he said.

“You don’t smell cigarette smoke unless there’s cigarette smoke there.”

Seriously, smokes on a plane?  You have to be out of your mind to think you can get away with it in such an enclosed space.

The family is now being sued by the airline for landing fees and hotel accommodation for all the other passengers, after prosecutors decided not to proceed further with the charges.

In the end, no one was atually found guilty of smoking on the plane, but the everyone on the plain incurred delays and costs.

The idea this idiot could cause all this for the sake of one ciggie and then does the whole “who? me?” act makes me sick.  I hope the airlines takes the scrote for the full $50k.

The two eldest MacNeils were sentenced to either a $500 fine or 10 days in prison. MacNeil Jr. was free to go.

Daryl McWilliams, vice-president of media relations with Sunwing, told CBC News in an interview Monday that the family will be banned from taking any Sunwing flights in the future. The ban, however, does not extend to other airlines.

Sunwing said Tuesday it still has every intention of bringing a $50,000 lawsuit against the MacNeils.

I hope the selfish arrogant pricks get to pay for every last bit of incinvenience they caused

Daryl McWilliams, vice-president of media relations with Sunwing, told CBC News that the airline plans to sue the family that was involved in Friday’s incident, and added that costs are approaching $50,000.

That bill includes having to put up the passengers and seven crew members in a hotel overnight, and paying a different crew to search the plane for extinguished cigarettes because the alleged smokers refused to say what they did with them.

The airline also had to send a mechanic to inspect the plane because it had too much fuel onboard and landed overweight, triggering a requirement under Canadian transport regulations, McWilliams said.

The plane was scheduled to pick up passengers in the DR who also had to be put up in hotels overnight Friday.

A diverted flight can also generate plenty of headaches and costs for passengers who miss pre-booked events, business meetings or time with friends and family.

A few years ago, I was waiting to board a flight, but the boarding of the plane before ours was held up by a missing passenger.  You know how it goes, Mr Drongo, Mr Drongo, last call, please run to gate 29, etc.

Just as it looks like Mr Drongo is going to miss his flight, he saunters into the boarding area.  He says loud enough for everyone to hear he was on the toilet having a crap.   At that stage, he still had some sympathy from some of us.  But then, he proceeds to thoroughly hug all of his family and friends that he’s leaving behind.  One.  By.  One.  Taking a lot of time.  Each.  Time.

There was nearly a murder at the airport that day.


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  • Andrei

    “Smoking onboard aircraft is an extreme safety issue, it poses an extreme safety risk to everyone on board the aircraft and we do take it very seriously.”

    LOL – we do live in the age of hysterical over reaction. I’m old enough to remember when everybody smoked on planes, wasn’t “an extreme safety issue” back then, hell no the stewardesses cabin attendants would even light them for you. If they saw you pulling one from your pack, they’d produce their handy dandy lighter and flick up a flame for you.

    Blame it all on the welfare state myself, people who don’t have much too worry about have to invent things to keep the adrenaline flowing

    • peterwn

      So presumably everyone who flew in the days when smoking was permitted on scheduled flights put themselves at extreme risk. There was pressure for a non-smoking area on planes which NAC (now the domestic arm of Air NZ) resisted for a while as it would complicate the seat allocation process, but they finally yielded, and after a few more years smoking was banned completely with USA legislators taking the lead as far as I remember.

    • surfisup

      I completely agree. There was no safety issue and they totally overreacted. There was no reason not to continue to the destination and hand them over to the authorities.

      I flew air cubana (cubas airline) in 2003 and all these passengers were smoking up fat cuban cigars. The plane landed just fine despite the thick smoke circulating around the cabin.

      Same as using a cellphone is ok on a plane.

      Airlines are a bit up themselves. And why can’t I make ‘bomb’ jokes at an airport? Surely a person planning on bombing a plane will not advertise the fact.

  • Bunswalla

    I hate smoking and smokers, and last year Cam kindly allowed me to post a guest item advocating for plain packaging of cigarettes. Got roundly shouted down, but the point being I don’t like the bloody things. However, I call bullshit on this hysterical (and not in a funny way) over-reaction by the airline.

    As others have said, it wasn’t that long ago you could happily fag your way around the world, and I still remember on my first major OE flight to the UK, innocently wandering into the smoker’s section while stretching my legs and feeling sick from the stench.

    The same with cellphones, airlines tell bullshit that they can compromise the plane’s guidance and safety systems, and somehow cause a fully-laden 747-400 to fall out of the sky. Yeah right! On every flight there are at least half a dozen phones that people forget to turn off – I’ve done it myself once or twice.

    They should come out and tell the truth – if you find yourself stuck next to someone on a long-haul flight that stinks of stale smoke and finds it necessary to ring all his mates and tell them “I’m on a plane!” you’d be fully justified in killing them.

    • Mr_V4

      The thing with electronics is it would be a huge process to try and certify each device paricularly phones as being compatible with avionic systems, ie not causing interference.

      Obviously if airlines let people use phones and one did cause some issue resulting in accident/injury it would be the airlines getting sued.
      Little wonder they have zero interest in allowing it, there is zero upside for them.
      Also do we really want everyone on board yarning away on their phones the whole time?

      That said there is a type of mini-cell that is being developed to allow wireless internet access on board.

      • Bunswalla

        A number of airlines in Europe apparently now allow people to make cellphone calls in flight. Also Mythbusters busted the myth about it being a safety issue.


        • Mr_V4

          Yes I think they are testing the use of a picocell onboard the plane to do it, which should allow phones to connect at very low power levels.
          I think the system also prevents phones from contacting any ground towers and hence causing issues with spectrum reuse.

          Also I guess more modern airlines have better sheilding of wiring etc than had been the case in the past.
          It will eventually happen, but I’m not too sold on the social issues it will create. Flying phone booth anyone?

  • smokers who smoke around non smokers are wankers. end of story.

  • A+random+reader

    Fun fact – the toilets in Air NZ planes all have ashtrays.

    The reason for this is that if people start smoking in the toilets (despite it being prohibited) then there still needs to be somewhere where the cigarette can be stubbed out.

    • peterwn

      The toilets also have smoke detectors which AFAIK have tamper switches installed as well.

      • John White

        The smoke detectors are easy to avoid. Hold an empty glass (the little paper water cups you get on some planes are just the right size) over the smoke detector. Keep the water in the sink running, and then flush the toilet a couple of times to clear the air. I should state that I am a non smoker and these instructions were told to me by a crew member a few years ago. He said that was how he had a cigarette during the flight.

  • disqus_CnsZbZYKMl

    I have a mate who has perfected smoking with the downdraft of the toilet discharge on a plane!

  • Brian of Mt Wellington

    So are people with hyphened names