Man Sentenced to Jail for Calling in Bomb Threat to Delay His Flight

Here’s what you definitely should not do if you’re late for a flight—call in a bomb threat for your specific flight.

In October 2014, Michael Howells, 37, was late for his WestJet flight from Kelowna to Calgary. Instead of making alternative arrangements, he decided to call the airport and say the plane was rigged with explosives. The inbound flight from Edmonton was actually just taxiing to the gate, but was then intercepted by authorities. They did a full sweep but couldn’t find a bomb, and screenings of luggages and passengers revealed nothing suspicious.

A WestJet 737-700

A WestJet 737-700

However, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) traced the call back to Howells, and the airline confirmed that he had just checked in for the flight. In order to catch the guy, WestJet announced the cancellation of the flight. As passengers began to leave, police checked everyone’s passport. Finally, at 3:15 pm, authorities identified Howells, who actually approached a policeman asking whether his flight was cancelled.

A search revealed a cell phone matching the number that made the bomb threat on Howells. What’s worse, police found multiple bags of metamphetamine and heroin on him. He claimed to be under the influence of drugs at the time, and pleaded guilty.

The Telegraph reports that the was just sentenced to a year in jail. He was also fined ~$4,000. The judge, Wilfred Klinger, who sentenced Howells, said:

A number of flights were cancelled or delayed, and many people were inconvenienced. The reality is, in our post-9/11 world, many people are even more fearful of flying. A threat of a bomb on an aircraft increases public apprehension and impairs the safe and orderly progression of air transportation.

Intentional or not, and under the influence of drugs or not, this man’s action clearly inconvenienced many other passengers. I am glad to see he is being held responsible for his actions, but seriously…if you’re late for a flight, call the airline for arrangements.

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