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Man Faces Huge $49,000 Fine After Hitting Flight Attendant on United Airlines Flight to Tokyo

Man Faces Huge $49,000 Fine After Hitting Flight Attendant on United Airlines Flight to Tokyo

A man has been ordered to pay United Airlines $49,793 to cover some of the costs involved in diverting a plane after he hit a flight attendant who refused to serve him a cocktail on United Airlines flight UA32 from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) in February 2020.

The Southern California man had been facing a maximum jail sentence of 20-years imprisonment if found guilty of assaulting a flight attendant but he narrowly avoided any time behind bars in part because he suffers from diabetes. The sentencing judge ruled that his health condition put him at increased risk of COVID-19.

In court, Seksan Kumtong, 52, pleaded guilty to interfering with the flight crew which in turn resulted in the flight being diverted to Anchorage so that he could be offloaded and taken into custody by local law enforcement.

In an affidavit, the FBI alleged that Kumtong had been acting strangely shortly after the flight departed LAX. Crew members saw him banging on the doors of occupied lavatories and trying to push past other passengers to get into a lavatory.

Described as “unruly”, flight attendants initially attempted to calm Kumtong down and even let the flight continue when he tried to push one of the crew. Flight attendants warned him not to shout or to touch crew members.

After “continued behavioural issues” the crew then decided to stop serving him alcohol. But after waking up from a short nap, Kumtong went to the galley looking for more alcohol. When refused, he’s alleged to have become agitated before striking the lead flight attendant in the face.

“Kumtong grabbed the lead flight attendant by the neck and tie and attempted to push the lead flight attendant to the floor. While doing this, Kumtong yelled obscenities and ‘I will kill you’,” the affidavit continued.

Other passengers waded into the melee helping the flight attendants restrain Kumtong, while the pilots diverted the plane to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Kumtong has been ordered to pay the cost of putting the other passengers in hotel accommodation overnight but the fine does not cover the cost of fuel or labor incurred by United.

In a statement, United Airlines said “the safety and security of our employees and customers is our top priority”.

View Comment (1)
  • Diabetes or not, he should serve jail time. He should also be made to pay all costs including fuel. These people keep getting away with this because there is no real punishment. I hope he is out on the no fly list worldwide!!

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