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UPDATE: Women granted bail in Sunwing 'disturbance'

Two women arrested for lighting a cigarette and getting into a physical altercation, according to the company

A booze-fuelled fight between two women who were allegedly drinking and smoking in an airplane bathroom prompted Sunwing to turn a Cuba-bound flight back to Toronto, the airline said, along with a brief military jet escort.

The women also made a threat against the aircraft, but ``it was considered non-credible given their condition,'' Sunwing's Janine Chapman said in a statement.

Nonetheless, two Toronto-area women are now facing charges of smoking on board an aircraft, endangering the safety of an aircraft, mischief endangering life, mischief over $5,000 and uttering threats.

Lilia Ratmanski, 25, of Whitby, and Milana Muzikante, 26, of Vaughan, were granted bail Thursday.

The flight left Toronto at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday en route to Varadero via Manzanillo, but was disrupted by ``two unruly female passengers,'' Sunwing said.

The women consumed a ``significant quantity of their duty-free alcohol purchase in the lavatory and lit a cigarette, triggering the smoke detector alarm,'' Chapman said. ``The passengers proceeded to get into a physical altercation with each other and made a threat against the aircraft.''

The pilot decided to turn the plane around over South Carolina and ``that's when NORAD got involved,'' said Major Julie Roberge, a spokeswoman for NORAD based in Colorado Springs, Colo.

NORAD scrambled two CF-18 fighter jets based out of Bagotville, Que., to escort Flight 656 back to Toronto. The jets met the aircraft at the Canadian border and did not venture into American airspace, Roberge said.

The CF-18 escort lasted just four minutes, she said.

The aircraft landed at Pearson International Airport at about 8:30 p.m. and Peel Regional Police Const. Thomas Ruttan said the entire plane ``erupted in cheers'' when the two women were removed from the aircraft.

The flight took off for a second time from Toronto around 11 p.m. Wednesday with a new flight crew, Chapman said.

When there is an incident on board an aircraft the pilot reports the disturbance to their traffic control centre, said NORAD spokeswoman Army Capt. Ruth Castro. The control centre then relays the incident to the Domestic Event Network, which is hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration, she said. NORAD monitors the event network and responds based on the level of the disturbance, Castro said.

She couldn't say what information NORAD had about the situation on board the Sunwing flight at the time it scrambled the jets, ``but the purpose of that DEN is to provide timely notification to the appropriate authorities that there is an emerging air-related problem or incident,'' Castro said.

``Just out of an abundance of precaution or caution NORAD jets were launched and they monitored the situation from the air.''

NORAD also used two American F-16 fighter jets based out of Toledo, Ohio in late July as a precautionary to escort another Sunwing flight as it returned to Toronto.

A 25-year-old man allegedly made a ``direct threat'' to the aircraft and it was turned back to Toronto about 45 minutes into the flight to Panama City.

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  • 14
  1. Angry Bill posted on 08/27/2014 11:05 PM
    Fighter jets scrambled for 2 drunk women in the bathroom trying to light a cigarette?
    1. dama posted on 08/28/2014 06:58 AM
      @Angry Bill ya,, no common sense by pilots,, followed protocol to a T in a slightest threat..

      Would have just duck taped the 2 woman to their seats and everyone else would have their holiday on schedule..
    2. AbbyW posted on 08/28/2014 09:27 AM
      @dama Terrorists win again. How many billions (or trillions) have been spent worldwide because of a few terrible terrorist threats? Maybe they're smart enough to recognize how much economic damage they've caused to the civilized world.
    3. AbbyW posted on 08/29/2014 11:24 AM
      @dama You're absolutely correct. Tape them to the seats and keep them taped on return flight to Toronto, or they can stay in Cuban jail for the week and go back on the flight they paid for, DUCT taped again.

      I hope the passengers, the airline, and NORAD sue them.
      One or both are now nurses. Can't wait until the nurses union protects them, maybe even goes on strike if they're convicted.
  2. Karl Burgin posted on 08/28/2014 09:38 AM
    One would think we would have had air marshals by now.
    Act all crazy on a plane and you get tasered. Its gotta be cheaper than flying all the way back to your original destination- to then fly out again.
  3. AbbyW posted on 08/28/2014 04:27 PM
    The security risk they keep referring to must be bogus. If there were a real concern why wouldn't they bring the plane down immediately rather than have it fly all the way back to Toronto. Either there's a serious concern or there isn't; they need to make up their minds. If it wasn't so serious why the overkill with fighter planes, etc.?

    Doesn't seem that common sense is working here.
  4. IBLeaf posted on 08/28/2014 04:42 PM
    I hope a class action lawsuit is filed against these two idiots to reimburse the rest of the passengers for their lost day of vacation. A precedent must be set for this sort of brainlessness.
  5. Ernie posted on 08/28/2014 07:14 PM
    What choice did they have but to turn around. Where they to hand them over to Cuban authorities when they landed in Cuba?

    I hope they not only have criminal records from this but also that they have to pay the airline and other passengers damages.
  6. ShirleyW_3 posted on 08/28/2014 10:42 PM
    Who behaves in such a manner? So unCanadian!
  7. MichaelP posted on 08/29/2014 08:48 AM
    The pilot did the right thing returning back - he really didn't have much of a choice in the matter. As for the fighter jets, that's probably overkill but I'm not gonna pass judgement on a pilot for being overly cautious. I save my criticism for the 2 drunken idiots who caused the problem.
    1. AbbyW posted on 08/29/2014 08:52 AM
      @MichaelP If they were such a threat why increase the danger by flying all the way back to Toronto vs landing in Florida, have them removed, then carry on to Cuba?
    2. MichaelP posted on 08/29/2014 08:58 AM
      @AbbyW because the two people are Canadians who were being turned over to Canadian authorities. I don't think the US cops want to waste their time with time, there's also the issue of getting the right to fly from a US airport to Cuba (this isn't something that can be done right away). If you land in florida you won't be able to do a quick drop off and head to Cuba. At best you'll be stuck there for hours and at that point you'll need a new flight crew which you won't have access to. So basically everyone is stuck in Florida with no way of getting to Cuba. . The pilot made the right decision to return to Toronto, drop off those idiots and then get the rest of the people off to their vacation.
    3. dama posted on 08/29/2014 10:43 AM
      @MichaelP From my initial post: duck taped them. fly to Cuba.. holiday travellers get off plane except the 2 ladies, still in duck tape.. fly back to Canada, hand them over to authority..

      hindsight 20/20 ?
  8. ToddK_2 posted on 08/29/2014 09:42 AM
    Dumbass trashy people, 'nuff said.
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