United Passenger Fined $49,793 For Hitting Flight Attendant Who Refused Him A Cocktail

A passenger on a Los Angeles – Tokyo flight last year attacked a flight attendant who refused him a cocktail. The captain diverted the flight to Anchorage, and now the man has to pay $49,793 to cover meals and lodging for passengers and crew during the diversion.

  • He doesn’t have to pay the airline’s additional costs, such as fuel or labor costs, resulting from the diversion.

  • He’ll get 5 years of probation.

  • But he won’t go to prison because his lawyer says he has diabetes, which is a co-morbidity for Covid-19.

The Southern California man had pled guilty to interfering with United’s flight crew after “acting up shortly after takeoff.” He banged on the plane’s lavatory doors, and when a flight attendant tried to suggest he use one of the other bathrooms on board he tried to shove the crewmember.

Then he went back to his seat and fell asleep. But when he woke up he ordered more cocktails. The flight attendant wouldn’t serve him and he “began swearing loudly before striking a flight attendant in the face, and attempting to take the crew member to the floor of the aircraft.”

At one point, Kumtong also yelled, “I will kill you,” according to an FBI affidavit…Crew members and passengers rushed to restrain the disruptive traveler before the flight was diverted to Anchorage.

The judge overseeing Tuesday’s proceedings also said the man avoided a prison sentence out of concern for his medical condition, which puts him at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection.

The incident occurred last February. He pled guilty in November. But he was sentenced this week, invoking the Covid-19 defense. Covid-19 really was his ‘get out of jail free’ card, or at least get out of jail for $49,793.

Maybe there really should be a national no-fly list for poorly-behaved passengers, after all.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Since this United Airlines passenger will pay $49,793 to cover the meals and lodging for all passengers and crew diverted to Anchorage, he should qualify for top elite status with many hotel properties if they credit the paid room nights to his account. As a top-tier elite, he will enjoy the benefit of complimentary adult beverages during his future hotel stays.

  2. This is pretty egregious stuff. Major no-fly list material. He’s even had his day in court and lost.

  3. As a non-lawyer, I’d wonder if the court has the authority, so to speak, to … defer … the imprisonment until such time as C19 isn’t an “issue” – then move forward with the incarceration?

  4. The sentencing to serve prison time is not an option because of covid 19 for he IS a diabetic YET he is on a plane, w/out mask most likely the whole time but let’s just give him the benefit of the doubt, ONLY while he is drinking alcohol!! Yeah that makes a lot of sense. Not!

  5. I smell bad fish – appears to be an extremely light sentence based on the charges.
    Sounds like a deal was cut due to his influence or possible connections?
    Assaulted an attendant, conveyed a threat to kill, created a major inconvenience/delays for other passengers.
    Diabetes?….yeah Ok.

    Why was the full name of this clown omitted from the the story?

  6. The Lawyer and the Judge are buddies. Shame. Hope he is forced to pay the fine and banned from United and Star Alliance Carriers.

  7. @Ken A

    Assuming he had some other qualifying flights already, $49,793 in EQDs should just about get him straight to Global Services.

  8. He should have also got 1000 hrs of community service to do . forget jail time us taxpayers have to pay for that. Let him do the community service every weekend for 4 years

  9. While $50,000 may be “small fish” to the “Fat Cats”, it serves as a potent reminder to those of us who would have some difficulty paying it along with attorneys’ fees to follow the rules, like them or not.

Comments are closed.