Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Drunken woman bit flight attendant

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

The sentence handed to a woman who bit and kicked flight attendants during a drunken rampage on a flight to Bali doesn't go far enough, the airline union says.

However, the conviction of Tara Anne MacKay was welcomed by Air New Zealand, which said it shows violent behaviour "will not be tolerated''.

MacKay, also known as Laidler, was ordered to undertake 300 hours' community work and 12 months' supervision with drug and alcohol counselling, after she was convicted yesterday of assaulting a flight attendant with intent to injure in August last year.

Today the Flight Attendants and Related Services Association (Farsa) said the sentence for the 28-year-old wasn't tough enough.

"It's great that the woman was convicted, but we would obviously prefer a bigger penalty to act as a deterrent to future similar events happening,'' said Farsa general secretary Peter Bentley.

He described the sentence as "pretty light'', saying: "I'm not too sure that actually sends the message about the safety of crew ... because this woman brought the safety of the whole aircraft into a little bit of risk.

"There are a lot of things that happen in incidents like this that might have a causal effect if there was a safety incident at that time.''

He said staff did a "great job'' in handling MacKay, whose behaviour - particularly the biting - was "horrendous''.

A spokeswoman for Air NZ said the carrier welcomed the decision, which made it ``clear that unruly behaviour on board will not be tolerated by our crew''.

"We support them to take the necessary action for their own safety and the safety of all passengers when situations of this nature occur,'' she said.

MacKay had been drinking with her partner on the flight before she began yelling and swearing and spilling her drink. She threw her drink at a staff member and locked herself in a toilet before being restrained. It was then that she lashed out, biting one flight attendant and kicking another in the testicles.

- Additional reporting Otago Daily Times


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