A 21-year old Texan man has been sentenced to six months behind bars by a British court after going on a drunken rampage aboard a British Airways flight that had just taken off from the airline’s hub at London’s Heathrow Airport, bound for Dallas Forth Worth. Jeffrey Libby was also fined £100 after being found guilty of using threatening and abusive words and was ordered to pay £415 in costs (a total of approximately $665 USD).
The drama unfolded shortly after British Airways flight BA193 had taken off on 17th December 2018, forcing the Captain of the Boeing 777-200 to divert back to London Heathrow just one hour after the flight had departed. The plane was met by law enforcement upon arrival and Libby was immediately taken into custody.
Dramatic cellphone footage of cabin crew and fellow passengers attempting to restrain Libby was captured as the Captain made a public address explaining that he had to divert because Libby was putting the safety of the aircraft in danger.
Libby pleaded guilty to three counts of common assault; one count of being drunk on board an aircraft, contrary to the Air Navigation Order 2016; and, one count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words towards cabin crew. It’s still unclear why Libby launched his drunken tirade at crew and passengers but it’s believed he had been drinking Bacardi rum that he bought at Duty Free.
The case will once again reinforce calls for tougher rules to be implemented on the sale of Duty-Free alcohol – lawmakers and passenger right groups in the United Kingdom have called for new laws that would limit access to pre-flight alcohol. The number of disruptive passenger incidents has risen sharply in the past few years and many cases have been associated with passenger intoxication.
According to police records, Libby assaulted two passengers and one member of cabin crew as they attempted to calm him down. Libby scratched, punched out and even bit the finger of one passenger.
“Libby’s behaviour was extremely reckless and he put the safety of the passengers and crew on board at risk,” commented Detective Inspector Matt East, from the Met’s Aviation Policing Command at Heathrow.
“His actions caused considerable disruption and inconvenience for all those on board, and the airline had to rearrange flights for the 191 other passengers.”
“Drunken, abusive and violent behaviour on board any flight is completely unacceptable. Anyone behaving in this way should know that it will not be tolerated by the crew and that they can expect to be arrested, put before the courts and could face several months behind bars.”
We’ve reached out to British Airways for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.