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French smoker creates commotion on plane

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
The incident allegedly happened after the flight crew smelled cigarette smoke on the New York-bound plane.
The incident allegedly happened after the flight crew smelled cigarette smoke on the New York-bound plane.
  • French passenger handcuffed on Delta flight from Nice, France, to New York
  • Flight crew suspected Franck Lebrun was smoking in a lavatory
  • When they confronted him, Lebrun allegedly pushed a flight attendant
  • Federal air marshals on the flight restrained the man
  • Air Travel

(CNN) -- A brawling smoker who turned his trans-Atlantic flight from France into something resembling a bar fight is facing criminal charges.

Franck Lebrun was on a Delta Air Lines flight from Nice, France, to New York last Saturday when things became tense, according to a complaint filed at the U.S. District Court in New York.

The account reads like something out of a movie to scare air travelers.

During the flight, the crew suspected that someone had been smoking cigarettes in one of the lavatories. Other passengers said it was Lebrun, so the crew confronted him once, and then a second time when he again headed for the bathroom. Lebrun looked intoxicated and smelled of cigarettes and alcohol, according to the complaint.

He then approached a flight attendant "in an aggressive manner" and pushed her away, according to the complaint. When she told him not to touch her, Lebrun pushed her away again, court papers say.

After more tense moments, a federal air marshal identified himself to Lebrun and told him to return to his seat.

As Lebrun walked toward the back of the plane "he continued to shout and waive [sic] his arms in an excited manner," according to the complaint.

Two other air marshals identified themselves to Lebrun and asked him to show his passport.

Lebrun continued to scream and yell expletives and then "aggressively positioned himself toward one of the federal air marshals in a fighting stance," court papers say. The marshals then handcuffed him and seated him in the back of the plane.

"Lebrun continued to verbally abuse individuals around him, yelling in substance 'I'm French, f*** you!'" according to the complaint.

He also became more agitated and "flailed his arms and legs," striking one of the marshals in the leg with his foot, court papers say.

After Lebrun was detained, the crew found a one-liter bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream liquor in his carry-on bag that was almost empty, according to the complaint. Earlier during the flight, Lebrun had purchased a bottle of the liquor and one miniature bottle containing vodka, court papers say.

Lebrun is accused of interfering with a flight crew. He was released this week on a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on January 24.

His attorney has not responded to a request for comment for this report.