Doing yoga on a plane cost this guy $58,000

Hyongtae Pae stands outside the federal courthouse in Honolulu. Photo / AP
Hyongtae Pae stands outside the federal courthouse in Honolulu. Photo / AP

A tourist who turned violent when he wasn't allowed to do yoga on a flight has escaped more jail time - but has to pay more than $58,000.

South Korean man Hyongtae Pae was arrested after he yelled at flight attendants, shoved his wife and headbutted two Marines when he was told to stop doing yoga on the United Airlines flight from Honolulu, Hawaii to Narita, Japan.

Pae and his wife were returning from a trip to Hawaii to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary when the March 26 incident happened.

According to court documents, Pae didn't want to sit in his seat during the meal service, so he went to the back of the plane to do yoga and meditate.

Authorities said he refused to return to his seat, threatened crew members and passengers and shoved his wife.

His behaviour prompted the pilot to turn the plane around and return to Honolulu. Pae told US authorities after his arrest that he hadn't slept in 11 days.

In April, Pae pleaded guilty to interfering with a flight crew and was allowed to return home to South Korea, even though prosecutors warned he might not return for his sentencing.

US District Judge Helen Gillmor said she agreed with prosecutors that Pae's actions constituted a violent felony and because of that, it is possible he may never be allowed to return to the United States.

But that was fine by Pae, who was in his 70s and didn't intend to travel to the US again, his lawyer Jin Tae Kim said.

Pae was ordered to pay $US44,235 (NZ$61,000) to United Airlines to cover the cost of turning the plane around, which includes fuel costs and payment to passengers who had to return to Honolulu.

He was also sentenced to 13 days in jail, which has already been served. He was not given additional jail time.

"I think your client is getting off very easy," the judge told Pae's lawyer, adding: "I take this very seriously and I have a great deal of concern about this behaviour."

US marines on-board the flight had to help restrain Pae during the midair incident, which was "a traumatic experience for the passengers and the flight crew", Assistant US Attorney Jill Otake told the court.

Pae tried to bite and headbutt the two marines, prosecutors said.

Pae declined to speak in court. Outside the courtroom, his lawyer said: "He didn't say it but he does apologise for what happened. This is a truly isolated incident."

- news.com.au

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