I have been on long red-eye flights where I wanted to break my own phone in half and eat it out of pure dissociative boredom, so it's almost relatable that a man did exactly that on a flight from Manchester to Iceland. Except for the violently abusive, sexist, and racist parts of what this guy did next.
According to local outlet Edinburgh News, in the middle of the three-hour easyJet flight in January last year, Matthew Flaherty, from Cheshire, England, pulled a bottle of gin from his overhead luggage. He started hitting on a nearby female traveler, and when she rejected him, he started on a violent tirade against the crew and other passengers. He told the woman who rejected him he would "kill her family," and told the crew “I am going to kill you if you do not shut up.” The crew locked the cabin door and rerouted the 142-passenger flight to Edinburgh Airport, where police waited to meet Flaherty.
On the descent, he tore his cell phone apart with his bare hands, chewing on the pieces of screen glass and letting the battery fall on a seat, where it started overheating.
He kept raging in police custody, including calling the police racial slurs.
Flaherty appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to charges including putting the safety of the flight in danger, as well as to a third charge of shouting, swearing, uttering threats of violence and racial remarks at Livingston police. Edinburgh News reports that fiscal depute Jade Doidge recounted the incident in court on Monday, as told by the cabin crew:
“The accused took his mobile phone out and began to destroy it with his bare hands cutting himself in the process. He was seen putting parts of it into his mouth and [chewing] them up. The battery was discarded onto a seat and as a result it began to heat up and began smouldering.”
The crew “scooped the battery up and placed it in a cup of water to cool it down," Doidge said, to prevent a fire on the plane.
EasyJet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Flaherty's defense attorney said this was all due to mixing alcohol and painkillers. He's scheduled to be sentenced next month.