A$60,000 fine for disrupting Qantas London nonstop flight

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September 10, 2018
Qantas 787
Qantas Flight QF9 returns to Perth. Credit Richard Kreider.

Analysis

The 32-year old male passenger who forced the turnback of the Qantas QF9 Perth to London non-stop flight on Saturday night, after he allegedly became violent and disruptive, will likely face a bill of over A$60,000 for the massive disruption that he caused.

In March, a passenger who forced a Perth to Brisbane flight to return after he mixed Xanax with alcohol was ordered to pay A$25,700 in fines and reparations to Qantas.

On that flight, in July 2017, Luke Taylor, 39, was allegedly physically and verbally aggressive toward Qantas crew when he was told he could not drink alcohol unless it was supplied by staff.

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However, the QF9 disrupt is far costlier as all the passengers had to be put up in hotels and the Boeing 787 grounded for 12 hours, until the crew, had the required rest period.

On the non-stop service to London, there is only a 90-minute buffer of duty time before the flight and cabin crew exceed their maximum work hours.

qantas
The 32-year old male passenger is escorted off QF9

The two-hour return to Perth meant that the flight could not resume until 12.30pm Sunday.

The decision to return to Perth is that of the captain who would have accessed a range of factors.

Uppermost was the welfare and safety of the passengers and whilst the offending passenger had been restrained he was still deemed a danger to the flight.

It could be argued by some that the flight could have continued and the passenger dropped off on-route at say Colombo or Mumbai.

However, the medical condition of the passenger was also in question.

Also, these airports are not on the Qantas network and thus there is no local support in place.

If the aircraft then had a technical issue or there was a longer than anticipated delay on the ground the disruption to the passengers would have been far greater.

In some cases where an aircraft has been forced to land at a remote location, the disruption can last days.

Other options such as Jakarta or Singapore, where Qantas has ground ops, were too far off route and would have pushed the flight time beyond the 90-minute buffer.

There is also the duty of care issue of leaving the offending passenger in a foreign country whose laws may be far harsher for air rage.

The cost of this delay is magnified by the tight schedule of the Boeing 787 service, which connects Los Angeles, Melbourne, Perth, and London.

With this particular delay, Qantas has had to reschedule a host of flights and operate extra Airbus A330s between Perth and Melbourne to help plug the gaps and make up time.