Family thrown from Sunwing flight is the talk of Nova Scotia home town

·National Affairs Reporter

If you think Sunwing Airlines is upset with the MacNeil family — that cigarette-happy Canadian family that forced a paradise-bound flight to make an unscheduled landing last week — check in with their hometown.

David and Darlene MacNeil and their sons have become the talk of Mabou, N.S., a hamlet outside Cape Breton. The family shot to infamy after a Dominican Republic-bound flight from Halifax was forced to land in Bermuda after several passengers refused to stop smoking on the flight.

CBC News reports that the family has been banned from all Sunwing Airlines flights and could face a hefty bill for the flight diversion, which cost the airline as much as $50,000. The couple and their 22-year-old son also faced charges in a Bermuda court.

CBC News writes:

MacNeil Sr. pleaded guilty to behaving in a disorderly manner and using abusive and insulting words. Darlene MacNeil pleaded guilty to disobeying lawful commands. David MacNeil Jr. was charged with smoking on the plane, but he denied the charge in court Monday.

Prosecutors decided not to proceed further with the charges, so in the end, no one was found guilty of smoking on the plane.

[ Related: Unruly Sunwing passengers on their way back to Canada ]

The MacNeils are en route back to Canada and have told reporters they will share their side of the story. Good news, too. Because some folks in Nova Scotia are dying to hear it.

The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports that the family was the topic of much conversation around the Cape Breton area, with everyone from waitresses to neighbours questioning what happened.

“(David) flies back and forth to Ontario every few weeks, so it’s not like he doesn’t know the rules and regulations,” one woman told the newspaper.

Father David reportedly owns a mining company in Ontario. The family reportedly lives in a recently-completed home that has several vehicles parked outside, including a pickup truck and an SUV with a fifth-wheel trailer.

Some of their neighbours expressed embarrassment about the family, although none would give the Chronicle-Herald their names, saying the MacNeils has a lot of connections to the area.

[ Related: Family of four forces Canadian flight to land in Bermuda ]

Others described the MacNeils as an average family and expressed shock at the way they are alleged to have acted on the flight.

At least one person found ways to vent their frustration at the family online.

The National Post reports that Mabou's Wikipedia page had been edited to read:

Mabou is best known for the nicotine-addicted MacNeil family that caused a flight destined to the Dominican Republic to make an emergency overweight landing in Bermuda…This family has brought great shame to Nova Scotia and this community as their actions are not like those of this area.

The crowd-sourced encyclopedia had been edited to read more objectively by late Tuesday night.

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