A 23-year old woman has been found guilty of attacking and assaulting the Captain of a SWISS International Air Lines aircraft last May shortly after the plane had landed at Heathrow Airport. But Henrietta Mitaire was spared jail after being sentenced at Uxbridge Magistrates Court today and instead was handed down a suspended sentence.
Ms Mitaire had been flying from Zurich to London Heathrow on May 2 last year but according to the prosecution she and her mother got into an argument with flight attendants and ground staff before they had even got onboard the plane.
Mitaire wanted to take a baby stroller onboard the plane but cabin crew and gate agents had refused her request, saying it was too big and would have to go in the aircraft hold. She claimed SWISS air staff had denied her permission to bring the buggy on the plane because “Swiss people are racist”.
Eventually, Mitaire relented and allowed the buggy to be loaded into the hold but demanded the names of the ground staff so she could make a formal complaint to the airline. But that wasn’t the end of the matter when the plane landed after an otherwise uneventful flight at London’s Heathrow Airport.
She again demanded the names of the ground staff and started to argue with the cabin crew manager Ali Chkerdaa. The Captain, Guido Keel then exited the flight deck and initially tried to talk to Mitaire before putting his hand on her shoulder and attempting to usher her off the plane.
“Why did you lay your hands on me? Where is the power?” Mitaire allegedly shouted at the Captain while starting to film what was happening on her mobile phone.
Keel attempted to tell her that he in fact had the power as Commander of the aircraft but Mitaire quickly started to tussle with him and he was pushed into the flight deck with Miltaire on top of him.
During the struggle, Mitaire scratched his neck and bit his arm, leaving bloodstains across his shirt.
While suggesting Keel’s decision to place his hand on Miltaire’s shoulder was “unwise”, District Judge Deborah Wright said Miltaire’s reaction “was wholly disproportionate”.
“The video footage is a testament to her anger and determination to continue to escalate a situation,” Judge Wright continued.
Ms Miltaire had denied assault, instead arguing she was acting in self-defence. The court dismissed her argument and sentenced her to a four-month suspended sentence. Her mother, Mary Roberts was cleared of kicking Keel while he lay on the floor of the flight deck.
After being found guilty, Mitaire refused to leave the dock and had to be dragged out of the court by a guard while she shouted: “Adolf Hitler is still ruling England and Mussolini is still ruling England and the innocent.”
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.