First-Time Flyer Fail: Man Hammers Shots, Asks Crew To Go ‘Mile High’

First-time flyer James Finnister is grappling with federal charges after an unsettling mid-air episode that included inviting flight attendants to join the 'mile high club'.

First-Time Flyer Fail: Man Hammers Shots, Asks Crew To Go ‘Mile High’

Image: Getty

We’ve heard some wild travel stories in our time — from the man who urinated all over business class to a Chinese time traveller waxing lyrical mid-flight — but this might just be one of the funniest to date: first-time flyer James Finnister is grappling with federal charges after a wild mid-air episode wherein he hammered shots and invited cabin crew to join the “mile high club.

Detailed in a criminal complaint filed earlier this week, the incident reveals a plethora of hilarious if unsettling details about Finnister’s maiden flight. Purportedly fueled by fistfuls of shots to ‘calm his nerves’, his behaviour led to immediate arrest on landing and charges of interference with crew, carrying a potential sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.

WATCH: Flight Attendant Survives 30,000 Feet Fall From Plane Without Parachute

What Did Finnister Do?

Finnister’s actions during the two-hour-and-10-minute Spirit Airlines flight from Louisville, Kentucky, to Orlando, Florida also involved moving to different seats multiple times before finally collapsing in the aisle of the plane and demanding that cabin crew get him upright again. On landing, Finnister claimed innocence, saying he had slept the entirety of the journey, apparently having no memory of what had passed…

Finnister’s day had begun with a wholly civilised bus ride from Detroit to Louisville to visit his cousin before catching the ill-fated flight to Orlando. Excited but understandably apprehensive about his first-ever flight, he sought emotional refuge in shots of vodka. Enjoying the Dutch courage, cabin crew report him being friendly and even making light-hearted jokes with crew… before things took a turn.

Grabbing a female flight attendant and pulling her into his seat before making wholly inappropriate propositions. However, the final nail in his coffin was when Finnister began to ask alarming questions about entering the aircraft cockpit… if there was ever one thing to not do on an American aircraft, that would be it.

“I woke up to an FBI agent sitting next to me,” he said. “I’m trying to get up, and he says, ‘You need to sit down.’ I said, ‘What’s up? What did I do?’”

James Finnister

Rough Landing

Unsurprisingly, law enforcement were called and met the aircraft at the gate, leading to Finnister’s immediate arrest. Despite his initial pleas of innocence, Finnister eventually admitted to inviting flight attendants to the infamous ‘mile high club’ but denied any acts of physical aggression, before suggesting that his inquiries about the cockpit were mere naive curiosity rather than any kind of malicious intent.

While I’m incline to believe the latter, it doesn’t excuse the former. As a result of all this, Finnister’s right to travel has been massively restricted and he is totally prohibited from consuming alcohol as well as being subject to regular drug testing. Awaiting trial, the final consequences could turn out to be much worse, with prison time a very real possibility for this first-time flyer.

Despite the Federal Aviation Administration reporting a 15% decrease in unruly incidents in 2023, it appears that some passengers can’t wait to buck the trend. We suspect, however, that Finnsiter is unlikely to make the same mistake again…