A VIETNAMESE business class passenger was left red-faced after he accused a female flight attendant of stealing his iPhone and even slapped her for it, only to find out later that he had merely misplaced the device.
The passenger, identified as 46-year-old Mai Thanh B., was later fined VND15 million (US$700) over the incident.
According to Thanhnien News, the incident took place at about 8pm on Aug 13, just as the aircraft landed at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City from Hanoi.
A report by the Southern Airports Authority said the plane was taxiing when the passenger informed airline staff Chi Thi Tho that his iPhone 6 plus was missing.
The passenger said he had left the device on the foldable table just before he dozed off and woke to find it missing.
He then slapped the flight attendant even after she explained that she did not see the phone when she folded back the table.
Cabin crew members later found the phone just below the seat just in front of him.
The man was quoted in a local news website as saying that he had consumed alcohol before boarding the flight. He insisted, however, that he did not drink enough to “lose control of himself”.
Tho said she sensed that the passenger was intoxicated as she could smell the alcohol from his breath, adding she had never encountered such a “brutal passenger” in her 10 years of working in business class.
Cases of unruly passengers in the region have been widely reported in recent months, leading authorities to introduce heavier punishments against those who misbehave on flights.
Earlier this month, Chinese authorities proposed an amendment to its aviation laws that would allow it to impose some 50,000 yuan (US$7,500) in fines for misbehavior.
On July 26, the Singaporean government announced that it will mete out heavier punishment against troublemakers on board flights as it looks to tighten laws that enable enforcers and courts to improve mechanisms to deal with offenders.