In March, a passenger who forced a Perth to Brisbane flight to return after he mixed anxiety medication Xanax with alcohol was ordered to pay $25,700 in fines and reparations to Qantas.
On that flight, in July last year, 39-year-old Luke Taylor was aggressive towards Qantas crew when he was told he could not drink alcohol unless it was supplied by staff.
However, Saturday’s disruption was far costlier because passengers had to be put up in hotels after the Boeing 787 plane was grounded for 12 hours until the crew had the required rest period. On the nonstop service to London, there is only a 90-minute buffer of duty time before the flight and cabin crew exceed their maximum work hours.
The two-hour return to Perth meant that the flight could not resume until midday on Sunday.
The decision to return to Perth was made by the captain, who would have considered a range of factors.
Foremost in his mind would have been the welfare and safety of the passengers.
The captain is likely to have decided that while the passenger had been restrained, he may have been a danger to the flight.
It could be argued by some that the flight could have continued and the passenger dropped off en route at Colombo or Mumbai.
However, the medical condition of the passenger was also likely to have been an issue to consider.
And these airports are not on the Qantas network, meaning there is no local support in place.
If the plane then had a technical issue or there was a longer than anticipated delay on the ground, the disruption to passengers would have been greater. In some cases where a plane has been forced to land at a remote location, the disruption has lasted for days. The cost of the delay is magnified by the tight schedule of the Boeing 787 service, which connects Los Angeles, Melbourne, Perth and London.
With Saturday’s delay, Qantas has had to reschedule a host of flights and operate extra Airbus A330s between Perth and Melbourne to help make up time.
This article originally appeared on PerthNow.