An unruly passenger flying from Ireland to New York this month got into trouble after he was accused of creating multiple disturbances, going so far as to moon a flight attendant and throw an empty can at another passenger.
According to a federal complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York on Jan. 8, Delta Air Lines passenger Shane McInerney, 29, of Galway, Ireland, refused to wear a mask during an eight-hour flight from Dublin to John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 7 despite being told “dozens of times” to do so.
McInerney went on to throw an empty beverage can at another passenger, kick the back of the passenger seat in front of him and put a fist up close to the flight captain’s face, according to the complaint.
At one point, McInerney walked from his economy-class seat to the Delta One-class section to complain about his food to a flight attendant, the complaint says. When he began to return to his seat, he “pulled down his pants and underwear and exposed his buttocks” to the flight attendant and nearby passengers, it said.
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The flight crew considered diverting the flight to remove McInerney, but the plane continued to New York.
When the flight was on its final approach to the runway, McInerney left his seat and refused to sit back down, the complaint said. Authorities took him into custody upon landing.
McInerney made his initial appearance in Brooklyn Federal Court on Jan. 14 and has been charged with intentionally assaulting and intimidating a member of a 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 $20,000 bond.
His attorney, Benjamin Yaster, declined to comment, The Associated Press reports.
Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant confirmed the incident to USA TODAY and said the airline has “zero tolerance” for unruly behavior.
Airlines have had to deal with a spike in unruly passengers since a federal mask mandate was implemented in early 2021. The mandate is set to remain in place through at least March 18.
There have already had more than 150 reports of unruly passengers this year, 60% of which were related to masking rules, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA can impose a fine of up to $37,000 per violation for unruly passengers, and each incident can result in multiple violations. The agency levied more than $1 million in fines against problem passengers last year.
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.