A drunken Japanese passenger punched a Delta Air Lines flight attendant while flying from Japan to Honolulu, federal prosecutors said.
Kenji Okamoto pleaded guilty Friday to interfering with the duties of a flight attendant by assaulting and intimidating him.
According to a criminal complaint, Kenji Okamoto was flying first-class from Osaka for his honeymoon last month when flight attendants noticed he was drunk before takeoff and continued drinking alcoholic beverages during the flight.
Kenji Okamoto got upset when one of the flight attendants wouldn’t take his meal tray away, the court document said. The flight attendant told him his hands were full. Kenji Okamoto allegedly “threw a roundhouse type punch” at a flight attendant who intervened in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
The honeymooner struck the flight attendant in his arms, which were raised to protect his head, the complaint said.
The Delta Air Lines flight crew told authorities that Kenji Okamoto later apologized while crying, remained calm for the remainder of the flight and eventually fell asleep.
After crew members restrained him in his seat, “Okamoto apologized for his actions by repeatedly saying <<I’m sorry>> and bowed down on his knees and placed his head on the floor,” the complaint said.
During an interview with authorities, Kenji Okamoto said he’s in the construction business and was “drinking heavily because he was celebrating his honeymoon with his wife … that he married on April 20, 2014”, the complaint said. Kenji Okamoto told authorities that before boarding the plane, he had four glasses of beer and one glass of wine and he continued drinking champagne and wine while on board.
Kenji Okamoto, 30, of Kyoto said the incident happened “like a flash,” according to the court document, and that he doesn’t remember what exactly happened but that he was upset because he felt like he was being disrespected when the first flight attendant wouldn’t take his tray away.
Magistrate Kevin Chang initially allowed Kenji Okamoto to be released on $50,000 bond, but Assistant US Attorney Tracy Hino appealed, arguing that Okamoto didn’t disclose a previous conviction in Japan for assaulting a police officer. Tracy Hino’s appeal provided photos of Kenji Okamoto’s near full-body tattoos, arguing that he is a flight risk and a danger.
Delta banned Kenji Okamoto from flying on the airline, according to Tracy Hino’s appeal.
District Judge J. Michael Seabright granted the appeal to keep Kenji Okamoto held without bail at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center.
Because he was arrested at the airport, Kenji Okamoto never got to enjoy his honeymoon, which was to be spent at a luxury resort in east Honolulu, Tracy Hino said.
Kenji Okamoto faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced on September 22.