A US court has sentenced a man to four weeks in jail after causing chaos on board a long-haul Singapore Airline (SIA) flight from San Francisco and Singapore in September 2022.
The incident took place on September 26, 2022, when the SIA Airbus A350 wide-body aircraft was operating daily scheduled passenger flight SQ33 connecting San Francisco Airport (SFO) and Singapore Changi Airport (SIN).
Bomb scare and assault
The bomb threat was issued around six hours before the aircraft was due to arrive at its destination, according to a report published by The Straits Times, when the passenger told crew that a there was bomb located in a bag on board the aircraft. The passenger then grabbed another passenger’s belongings from the overhead compartment.
The crew did not find any suspicious items in the bags.
However, tensions increased when the passenger began to verbally insult a member of the cabin crew, before slapping an air steward who had attempted to physically restrain the man.
In response to the bomb alert, which is the highest-level threat to flight safety, police were alerted to the bomb threat and the plane was escorted to Changi Airport by Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter jets.
The Airport Police Division and Special Operations Command’s K-9 Unit, as well as the Singapore Armed Forces’ Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defense Group, were mobilized to investigate the matter, the report added. However, the threat turned out to be false.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lim Ying Min told the media that following the US court’s decision the passenger was sentenced to four weeks in jail.
The passenger was diagnosed with schizophrenia after his arrest. His defense lawyer said that while his client had not been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in the United States, the passenger had wanted to go to Phuket to “do battle with evil forces”, The Straits Times reported.
According to the DPP, the passenger’s aggressive behavior was sparked by stressors such as a solo trip to a foreign country “including the fact that he has no fixed place to stay and no one to monitor his compliance with his medications”.
However, instead of four weeks, the aggressive passenger could have received a sentence of up to three years in jail with a financial penalty of up to $5,000 for physically attacking a crew member and an additional fine of around $5,000 for using threatening words like to cause alarm.