By now everyone has seen the video of the “idiot,” suitably described by a level headed and thoroughly professional USAirways flight attendant, being removed from a flight by emergency responders in blue hazmat suits. While he proclaimed that he was only joking, the full weight of the system should be brought down on anyone who thinks joking about ebola on an airplane is funny.
We haven’t heard whether the “idiot” is going to be prosecuted, but, considering the environment in which we currently live and the potential vulnerability of air transportation, he should be held fully accountable both civilly and criminally and see how funny his fellow inmates think shouting “I have ebola. You’re all screwed” is when he does it in the prison yard.
Whether he’s learned his lesson or not is secondary. The message has to be clearly and forcefully delivered to other potential idiots that such joking isn’t funny and we’re not going to tolerate it.
So, you ask yourself at this point in our rant, what can be done? Well, what he did is a violation of the Tokyo Convention of 1963. Entitled The Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, (“Tokyo Convention”), this international agreement, to which the United States is a signatory, applies to the conduct of passengers who “jeopardize good order and discipline on board” an aircraft which is in flight. If, telling your fellow passengers that you have ebola and they’re all screwed, doesn’t jeopardize good order and discipline, we don’t know what does.
Under the Tokyo Convention, the Captain has the authority to remove offenders for the aircraft and turn them over to the police where they can be extradited to, in the case of the recent incident, the United States. Once the extradition is completed, he can be charged with, among other things, interference with a flight crew, an offense which can carry both monetary penalties and jail time.
The bottom line is that there’s simply no excuse for any passenger on any airplane to be joking about guns, bombs or ebola. Anyone who does so ought not be permitted to get on another airplane. Flying today, in a post 9-11 world, is, under the best of circumstances, tough. Security measures, extra charges and delays have removed all of the romance the industry had in its early years.
Putting up with all the inconveniences associated with ensuring the extraordinary safety of our air transportation system is enough. We don’t need idiots like the one escorted off the airplane the other day. For our money, throw the book at him!!
Oh, yeah . . . . a big thank you to the whole flight crew and USAirways! That flight attendant is a winner!
(Originally posted October 13, 2014)