A man who claimed to have had close contact with someone diagnosed with Coronavirus when he was asked to end a phone call on an Aer Lingus flight from Amsterdam to Dublin has been handed a two-month prison sentence after causing “pandemonium” on the flight.
Job van den Broek, a 30 year old Dutch national, had been planning to fly onwards to Los Angeles to propose to his girlfriend but instead was held overnight Ballymun Garda Station after he was charged with engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.
On arrival in Dublin, Aer Lingus flight EI605 was met by Gardai (police) and public health authorities so that van den Broek and other passengers could be checked. Everyone onboard was deemed to be virus-free but van den Broek apparently thought the whole thing was a joke and wanted a photo with the Gardai.
The court was told that cabin crew repeatedly asked van den Broek to end a phone call before they carried out a mandatory pre-flight safety demonstration prior to departure on yesterdays flight. They found him rude and difficult and it took ten minutes before he eventually finished the phone call.
Mid-flight he then approached cabin crew and asked to explain why he been on the phone. Witnesses told the court that van den Broek said he had been speaking with his mother who he claimed had Coronavirus and that he had been in contact with her.
His comments are said to have reduced the cabin crew to tears and led to “pandemonium” on the plane. When Gardai arrived at the aircraft, they were confronted with a “hostile situation”.
While accepting his actions were “incredibly stupid”, his lawyer said he had not realised the “serious gravity of his actions”.
Judge Conal Gibbons described van den Broek’s actions as the “most exceptional of exceptional circumstances” and sentenced him to two months imprisonment. However, van den Broek was released on bail so he could appeal the judgement.
Van den Broek said he was willing to pay €1,500 to the crew for any upset he caused but Judge Gibbons said he could not buy his way out of trouble.
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.