A drunken British Airways passenger had to be forcibly restrained in her seat after storming the galley and smashing crockery when cabin crew refused to serve her a drink, a court heard today.
Emma Langford, 47, had to be restrained in her seat during the 11-and-a-half hour long haul flight from London to Cape Town in South Africa after allegedly attacking staff who refused to serve her.
A cabin crew manager claimed in a statement that the businesswoman ‘smelt of alcohol’ and ‘puffed her chest out’ before starting to punch him in the galley area of the Boeing 747-400.
Langford admitted being drunk on an aircraft, behaving in a threatening manner towards aircraft crew and criminal damage when she appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court today.
But she denies assaulting the three members of staff on the flight from London to South Africa.
Langford also claims the criminal damage was not deliberate, but magistrates told her that they will decide on that as part of a Newton hearing after her trial.
The court heard Langford boarded British Airways flight BA043 from London Heathrow to Cape Town on December 6 last year.
It was scheduled to depart at around 6.15pm and Langford is said to have approached a cabin crew member in the galley 30 minutes after take off.
Zara Khan, prosecuting, read a statement of flight crew member Matthew Richardson to the court claiming Langford was behaving ‘erratically’ and smelt of alcohol.
Miss Khan said: “He says he works as a customer service manager for British Airways.
“He says ‘I and several colleagues were assaulted by a disorderly passenger who later had to be forcibly restrained.”
According to the charges, Langford assaulted Mr Richardson as well as Monique Foulger and Poppy Haynes.
In the statement Mr Richardson said: “Around 30 minutes after take off Miss Langford came to the galley area of the aircraft where I was working.
“She was raising her voice and displaying aggravated body language to Poppy Haynes.
“She said she had been on the aircraft for ‘ages’ and wanted something to drink.
“I informed her the bar was about to commence, I could smell alcohol on her so I asked her if she had already been drinking.
“She said she had not. I gave her a bottle of water and asked her to sit down. A few minutes later the same customer returned back to the area demanding a drink.
“She approached me with a puffed up chest and was behaving erratically.
“I instructed her I was not willing to discuss this further. She kept moving closer toward me. I asked a cabin crew assistant to come closer to me because I was becoming increasingly concerned.
“I asked her to calm down. Miss Langford ran towards Monique another cabin crew member and chased her away.
“She then returned to me and then punched me on my left collar bone three times.”
The court heard Langford returned to her seat, but again returned to ask for a drink.
Staff say they asked her to return to her seat and did not take further action because flight crew said handing her a violation notice may ‘aggravate her further’.
Mr Richardson said: “I then saw the same customer being verbally abusive towards Miss Haynes. I asked her again to sit down.
“From the seat she punched at me then hitting me on my arms and hands and I’m aware Miss Haynes was assaulted by the customer.
“A short while later she got up again in the galley area shouting more abuse at me and my colleagues.
“She tipped up a drawer full of plates onto the floor and lifted trays of glasses onto the floor causing some of them to break.
“She struck at me a few times on my hands and arms. The flight crew issued us with a violation notice for the customer.
“I explained this to her and she then ripped this up and responded: ‘blah blah blah’ and had to remain restrained in the seat for the rest of the journey.”
Meena Shinh, defending, said Langford denies assaulting the cabin crew and that ‘any touching would have been when I was being restrained’.
Chair of the bench Kamran Zubair said: “Miss Langford you have heard your case is listed for trial on the 12 and 13 August.
“There are six charges, three of them you pleaded guilty to, those will be sentenced at the close of your trial.”
Langford, of Hook, Hampshire, denied three counts of assault by beating and admitted one count of criminal damage, one count of being drunk on an aircraft and one count of behaving in a threatening manner towards aircraft crew.
She is due to appear at the same court in August for a two-day trial.