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South African woman fined for Air Canada flight diverted to Halifax

01/22/2015 11:52 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT
A South African woman has paid a high price for disrupting a transatlantic Air Canada flight from London to Toronto that was diverted to Halifax.

Nomantangwa Johansson, 30, appeared in Dartmouth provincial court on Thursday morning and pleaded guilty to mischief and endangering an aircraft under the Aeronautics Act.

She was fined nearly $6,000 and ordered to reimburse Air Canada for the $9,400 cost of diverting the plane.

Johansson was on board Air Canada flight AC869 on Dec. 17 when she started causing problems. Court was told the South African woman was being rude to flight attendants before the plane even left London.

According to another passenger, Johansson called one flight attendant "stupid" and "useless."

When another attendant approached her to talk about her behaviour, Johansson doused her with water then threw the empty water bottle.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Johansson slept for a couple of hours. When she woke up, she walked up the aisle, grabbed an attendant by the arm, pushed her and called her a bitch, court heard. That's when the captain decided to divert the flight to Halifax.

"People get on an aircraft, they have to understand that these are planes that just can't pull over and put people out like a bus or a train or something like that," Cheryl Byard, the Crown prosecutor, said outside court.

"They have to behave appropriately and they're putting passengers at risk, the flight at risk. And severe consequences will result if they're going to continue to behave this way."

Johansson, who is from Sandhurst, told RCMP after her arrest that she was upset because she couldn't sit with her husband on the flight and her TV did not work.

When she was arrested, the Canada Border Services Agency seized her passport. She was originally charged with three counts of assault on an aircraft, one count of assault with a weapon, one count of causing a disturbance and one count of endangering an aircraft under the Aeronautics Act.

The other charges were dropped when Johansson pleaded guilty on Thursday.

Johansson's lawyer told the court on Thursday that she wanted to recover her passport right away so she could return to South Africa. She had been free on $10,000 bail. She agreed to forfeit that bail amount as partial payment of her fines and reimbursement.

In sentencing her, Judge John MacDougall wished her, "Godspeed. Get out of here." He then questioned whether she'd be able to fly home by Air Canada.

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