Last Friday, not one, not two, but three members of the MacNeil family were detained after smoking aboard a Sunwing flight from Halifax to the Dominican Republic. David, 54, Donna, and David Jr, 22, were all allegedly smoking mid-flight, something that has been banned for over twenty years now.
"My understanding is that these passengers were smoking in their seats, which is unusual to say the least," said [Sunwing spokesman Daryl] McWilliams.
"It's been 20 years since people were allowed to smoke on an aircraft. The only thing I can think of [is] maybe they wanted to stage some sort of display that 'we're opposed to this law.'"
When the clan of air smokers were confronted by shocked flight attendants, they became unruly, with the elder David reportedly shouting, "You fucking asshole, I just pissed on the floor." While the floor pissing remains unconfirmed, the three MacNeils reportedly continued to disobey Sunwing crew members (a witness described "lots of screaming and swearing"), forcing an emergency landing in Bermuda.
MacNeil Sr was charged with and pleaded guilty to behaving in a disorderly manner and "using abusive and insulting words," which is apparently an offense. Donna MacNeil pleaded guilty to disobeying lawful commands. Both were sentenced to pay a $500 fine or spend 10 days in prison. As for Lil David Jr., he "denied the charge" of smoking on the plane and was set free. A fourth MacNeil (yes, there are more), a teenager, was not charged with any crimes.
But the MacNeils aren't in the clear yet. Sunwing has plans to sue the hell out of them.
"We're going to sue them," [McWilliams] said. "It's something that we don't do very often. We do it in cases where we think the activity has been flagrant. It usually requires going beyond verbal abuse."
McWilliams estimates that the cost of diverting the flight could be as much as $50,000.
That cost apparently includes fees for landing in Bermuda, flying a mechanic to Bermuda to deal examine the overweight plane (it hadn't burned off enough fuel to land, apparently), overnight accommodations for all the passengers, and hiring a crew to search the plane for cigarette butts.
"The passengers involved in this ridiculous situation refused to say what they did with their cigarettes so that meant that there was a potentially hazardous material, which was an incendiary, onboard the aircraft," said McWilliams.
Owain Johnston-Barnes, a reporter for Bermuda's Royal Gazette who was in the Hamilton court Monday, said the three MacNeils are from Mabou, Cape Breton, and that the family lives together off of Route 19.
So future travellers considered yourself warned: Stay away from Route 19 in Obscure, Canada.