NEW YORK (AP) – An Irishman on a Delta flight from Dublin to New York refused to wear a mask, threw a can that hit another passenger, pulled down his pants and exposed his buttocks to a flight attendant, according to a federal complaint unsealed Friday.
According to the lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of New York, Shane McInerney, 29, of Galway, “created … extensive disruption” on the Jan. 7 Delta flight heading to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“During the approximately eight-hour flight, the accused repeatedly refused to wear a face mask despite dozens of requests from flight personnel,” the complaint states.
McInerney was charged with interfering with the flight crew, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He appeared in court last week and was released on bail. His attorney, Benjamin Yaster, declined to comment.
In a statement, Delta said the airline “has zero tolerance for unruly behavior at our airports and on board our aircraft because nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and customers.”
According to the complaint, McInerney at one point left his seat to complain to a food attendant and, on the way home, pulled down his pants, mooning at the attendant and nearby passengers.
The pilot attempted to speak with McInerney, according to the complaint, during which the passenger put his cap on the pilot’s head. He also told the pilot not to touch him and put his fist near the pilot’s face, according to the complaint.
As the plane was on its final approach to JFK, McInerney refused to remain in his seat, instead standing in the aisle, according to the complaint. The authorities arrested him upon his arrival.
Reports of unruly passenger behavior have risen sharply, with airlines saying there were more than 5,000 episodes last year. The majority of them, more than 3,600 cases, included people who allegedly refused to wear face masks as required.