Man arrested on Sunwing flight published expletive-laden posts from Trudeau airport
Published Thursday, July 6, 2017 11:25PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 12, 2017 1:27PM EDT
The 39-year-old man charged with multiple offences connected to ‘unruly’ behaviour on a Sunwing flight bound for Cuba published a series of expletive-laden posts to his Facebook page leading up to the fateful flight.
Charalabos ‘Bobby’ Nassios posted photos with erratic captions, gave the middle finger in the airport and showed his Facebook friends he was headed to Cayo Coco for a getaway.
Nassios appeared in court Friday afternoon to face charges of assault, death threats, breach of conditions, and threat to aviation security.
The breach of condition charge is related to a former court condition. His lawyer Alexandra Mathers Clermont said he was already facing charges including operating a vehicle while impaired, refusing to provide a breath sample and carrying, using or threatening to use a weapon. He his next court date related to those charges is Aug. 18.
The Sunwing flight was forced to turn around Thursday evening due to Nassios’s alleged ‘unspecified threats.’
Montreal police spokesperson Andrée-Anne Picard said the man was drinking alcohol and disturbing passengers. Police wanted to make clear that the threat was not in any way related to terrorism.
Flight WG604 departed Montreal’s Trudeau airport in the early evening with 170 passengers on board.
Two airborne USAF F15 fighter jets intercepted the aircraft near Albany, NY, and escorted it back to Montreal. RCAF CF18s monitored from a distance but did not engage, according to Major Jennifer Stadnyk of NORAD.
The fighter jets were from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Massachusetts.
The flight returned to Montreal at around 7:25 p.m. and the disruptive passenger was taken into police custody.
Video provided to CTV by Maxime Fongaro shows Nassios being handcuffed by Montreal police officers on the plane. Nassios expresses concern for his passport and bag and is reassured by an officer that they will be cared for.
The video also shows one of the fighter jets flying alongside the plane.
Image of a fighter jet escorting the Sunwing plane back to Montreal. Courtesy: Maxime Fongaro
His Facebook profile includes multiple updates immediately before the flight, including a post stating, “Sometimes saying fuck the world is worth it. Like now” and another with him in the airport giving the middle finger.
He also clearly shows he is bound for Cuba, with posts showing his impending departure. Another post he shared Thursday was a screenshot of an email he received informing him his job application had been rejected.
The other passengers had a long night; the next departure to Cayo Coco left Friday at 4:30 a.m.
Sunwing Airlines, apologizing for the inconvenience, said it provided housing and meals to customers affected by the incident.
Loraine and Robert Racette were passengers on the flight.
They’ve travelled to Cuba dozens of times and have never been on flight that had to be escorted by fighter jets.
The couple say they were only offered an explanation for why the plane was returning to Montreal after it had already turned around.
According to the Racette’s, problems with Nassio started before the flight had departed.
“He had been drinking and he was already aggressive towards the Sunwing attendants,” said Loraine Racette.
“Passengers were angry we were returning to Montreal because of a man who had been drinking before boarding the plane,” she said.
The Racettes believe Sunwing should have prevented Nassios from boarding the plane in the first place.
Second incident Thursday
This was the second such incident involving a North American flight on Thursday night.
Officials say a Delta Airlines flight bound for Beijing returned to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant.
Airport spokesman Perry Cooper says a man in first class assaulted a flight attendant about 45 minutes into the flight and that passengers then helped restrain the man until the plane landed back in Seattle.
Officials say two people, including the flight attendant, were injured and taken to a hospital.
Similar 2014 Sunwing incident
This is not the first time Sunwing has been forced to turn a plane headed to Cuba around with a military escort for unruly passengers.
In 2014, two women were arrested after they allegedly consumed a significant amount of alcohol aboard a Sunwing flight bound for Cuba, lit up a cigarette in a bathroom and then proceeded to get into a physical altercation with each other and make a threat against the aircraft.
They were given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay a fine of $500 each and to pay $7,500 in restitution to Sunwing.
With files from the Canadian Press.