14th February 2020

Chelmsford Crown Court handed out a two year prison sentence earlier this week to a woman who caused serious disruption to a Jet2 flight in June 2019.

Chloe Haines was a passenger travelling from Stanstead Airport to Turkey when she mixed alcohol with medication which led to her causing extreme disruption to the flight. She reportedly shouted that she wanted to kill all passengers on the flight before making attempts to open the plane door. She was restrained by Jet2 staff and passengers on board the flight.

Ms Haines pleaded guilty to two offences – assault by beating and endangering the safety of an aircraft – and was handed a two year prison term.

Ms Haines’ behaviour caused two RAF fighter jets to escort the plane to safety as it returned to Stanstead Airport. Jet2 are separately seeking £86,000 in costs from Ms Haines.

As the summer holiday season approaches, the case serves as a stark warning of the dangers of drinking alcohol on public transport and particularly aircraft, and the consequences when things go wrong. There has been much media attention over the last couple of years around alcohol in airports after the Home Office announced in 2018 that research was to be conducted on the topic. A consultation which concluded shortly after Ms Haines’ arrest in 2019 warned the government against legislating airport alcohol prohibitions.

Offences committed on board flights carry far greater punishment than if the equivalent behaviour occurred on land. Had Ms Haines been charged with an offence of being drunk and disorderly in a public place, or perhaps the more serious threatening behaviour with intent to cause another to fear immediate unlawful violence, she would likely have faced a fine or community order (work with the Probation Service) as a punishment. Instead, for the offences of this nature the case must be sent to the Crown Court where the sentence can be anything up to life imprisonment.

The law applies not only to any person on aircraft in UK territory, but to any UK national outside of the UK as well.

If you have been accused of disruptive behaviour on public transport, please contact us for further information.

Blog by Sophie Cohen, Criminal Defence Solicitor