A Finnair passenger has been ordered to pay the airline €43,000 in damages and has been handed a one year suspended prison sentence after a Helsinki court found the 42-year-old man guilty of wrecking an onboard lavatory during a flight to Vietnam in 2017. The passenger apparently flew into a fit of rage after his method of payment for a Duty-Free purchase was declined according to one flight attendant who provided evidence to the court.
In court, the flight attendant said the man tried to use a Finnair gift card to complete an onboard purchase. When that method of payment was declined, he became angry and then went into one of the onboard restrooms.
Flight attendants could hear loud banging noises coming from inside the lavatory and once he left, one of the crew went to see what had happened. “I have never in my career seen so many broken parts in a toilet,” the flight attendant told the Helsinki District Court.
“… and it smelled of vomit and urine,” the flight attendant continued. She described how a paper towel holder had been pulled off the wall and the waste bin cover had also been forcibly removed.
The man initially admitted causing the damage when questioned by police but in court, he claimed the damage was caused as he tried to steady himself after turbulence struck the plane.
A safety director for the airline, however, pulled cold water on that defence. “It would have been necessary to use extreme force to remove the towel rack and the cabinet door,” he told the court, saying turbulence could not have caused the damage.
Other witnesses came forward to say there hadn’t been any strong turbulence during the flight, YLE reported.
The defendant admitted to drinking both before and during the flight, as well as using sedatives. After his episode in the lavatory, he fell into a deep sleep and wasn’t bothered again until Vietnamese police board the flight.
Last week, the Helsinki District Court ruled that the man had endangered the safety of other passengers. The €43,000 fine will help cover the cost of repairs to the aircraft, as well as Finnair’s legal expenses.
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.