An Irish man on a Delta flight from Dublin to New York refused to wear a mask, threw a can that hit another passenger, and pulled down his pants and exposed his buttocks to a flight attendant, according to a federal complaint unsealed Friday.
According to the complaint, filed in the Eastern District of New York, Shane McInerney, 29, of Galway, "created ... numerous disturbances" on the January 7 Delta flight that was headed to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
"During the approximately eight-hour flight, the defendant repeatedly refused to wear a face mask despite being asked dozens of times by flight crew personnel," the complaint said.
McInerney has been charged with interfering with flight crew, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He made a court appearance last week and was released on bond. His attorney, Benjamin Yaster, declined to comment.
In a statement, Delta said the airline "has zero tolerance for unruly behavior at our airports and aboard our aircraft as nothing is more important that the safety of our people and our customers."
According to the complaint, McInerney at one point walked from his seat to complain to an attendant about the food, and on his way back pulled his pants down, mooning the attendant and nearby passengers.
The pilot attempted to speak with McInerney, the complaint said, during which point 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 in its final approach to JFK, McInerney refused to stay in his seat, instead standing in the aisle, the complaint said. Authorities took him into custody upon landing.
Meanwhile, an American Airlines flight to London returned to Miami after a passenger refused to follow the federal requirement to wear a face mask, according to the airline.
The airline called Miami police, and officers escorted a woman off the plane at Miami International Airport Wednesday evening without incident. A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Police Department said American Airlines staff dealt "administratively" with the passenger.
The woman was put on American's internal no-fly list pending further investigation, an airline spokesman said. Airlines have frequently banned passengers for the duration of the pandemic if they refuse to follow mandatory mask requirements designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
American said there were 129 passengers and 14 crew members on the plane. Pilots turned the Boeing 777 around less than an hour into the transatlantic flight, according to tracking service FlightAware.
Airlines reported nearly 6000 incidents involving unruly passengers last year and 151 in the first two weeks of this year, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration. The majority of them, more than 3600 cases, included people allegedly refusing to wear face masks as required.