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JETSTAR: Passenger tasered for refusing to return to assigned seat

JETSTAR: Passenger tasered for refusing to return to assigned seat

In Perth yesterday (Tuesday 21 March 2023) a passenger was tasered and removed from a Jetstar flight because he would not obey a crew instruction to return to his assigned seat, after arranging to swap seats with another passenger so he could sit with his family.

This is not good for Jetstar’s reputation. It looks like they are mean and possibly racist. However, it should be a reminder to all air travellers, that you are required to obey the lawful directions of cabin staff.

The story

Bolic Bet Malou, a Melbourne father was tasered for refusing to return to his assigned seat before a Jetstar flight took off from Perth heading to Melbourne. Apparently, Malou had with the consent of the other passenger swapped his seat so he could sit with his partner and child. Jetstar staff apparently asked him to resume his assigned seat before takeoff, and he refused. Federal police were called, and he ended up being tasered before he and his family were removed from the flight. Malou has now been banned from flying as part of his bail conditions until his trial scheduled for July. His lawyers will challenge those conditions so he can return to Melbourne and join his family.

Have a look at the video at the time incorporated in this news report:

passenger arrested on Jetstar flight in Perth, 9 News [YouTube/9NEWS]

Let’s try and tease this out

  • The passenger swapped seats with the agreement of the other passenger – It’s unclear whether he had permission from the staff
  • The passenger was directed by a cabin staff member to resume his seat but refused to
  • Federal Police were called, and tasered the passenger – it is unclear whether the passenger resisted, although this is the accusation by the police.
  • The passenger was arrested and removed from the flight

Even with the fragments of video in the clip above, its hard to know the complete story. It will probably take until it gets to court before all will be revealed. For instance, did the passenger resist, abuse? Did the cabin crew make it clear that he couldn’t change his seat at all, or that he could after takeoff – which is the usual instruction on Qantas/Jetstar flights? And there are questions around whether he had another cabin staff’s permission for the change.

What is clear is that he did not expeditiously follow crew directions, and that is a big no-no on an aircraft.

What are the rules in Australia?

The ruling body in Australia as regards Aircraft safety is CASA – the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Head over here if you want to read the full rules concerning passenger behaviour, but I have excerpted the rules about Passenger behaviour below:

Passenger behaviour

When you’re in the airport or onboard your aircraft, you can’t:

  • use language or behaviour that is threatening, abusive or insulting
  • behave in an offensive or disorderly way, including physical assault, verbal abuse or sexual harassment
  • interfere with pilots or cabin crew as they do their job
  • interfere with aircraft equipment
  • do anything that threatens the safety of the aircraft or the people onboard
  • smoke anywhere on the aircraft
  • disobey instructions, such as not complying with the seatbelt sign or a crew member request.

If you don’t follow these directions, an infringement notice may be issued. The captain can place you under arrest if your actions threaten others’ safety or that of the aircraft – and the crew could physically restrain you. This situation can also lead to prosecution.

Unruly behaviour

It is against the law to behave in a disorderly, unruly or disruptive manner on board an aircraft. If you do this, you can be fined and prosecuted.

The captain can place anyone on board an aircraft under arrest if they threaten the safety of:

  • the aircraft
  • its crew
  • its passengers.

In some cases, this will involve being restrained by crew.

It is a requirement that you follow the instructions of crew members at all times. This is something that forms part of your conditions of carriage.

CASA on Your Safety and Behaviour

Those rules give pretty wide prohibitions for bad behaviour and grant very wide powers of instruction to the cabin staff.

a group of people wearing face masks
Return to Perth once borders opened [Jetstar]

2PAXfly Takeout

The takeout from this story is: do what cabin staff tell you to, and don’t argue, even if you think an instruction is unreasonable, as you have no power in these situations, and the cabin staff have allllll the power.

If you want to change seats or do anything else that crosses the rules – get the permission of the cabin staff, and preferably of the purser or cabin team leader if you do

Is this just and fair? Not really the issue here. Unfortunately, there is no time for democracy, or sorting out ‘he said/she said’ situations in an emergency.

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