A fellow passenger has defended Lindsay Lohan's decision to disembark a commercial plane bound for Los Angeles on Sunday night (17Mar13), revealing the actress was seriously worried about missing her court date.

Reports suggested the Mean Girls star and an assistant left the Virgin America flight at JFK Airport in New York over an oil spill fear, but the passenger insists Lohan simply exited the flight because she didn't think it would get her to Los Angeles on time to get to court on Monday morning (18Mar13).

She finally got to Los Angeles onboard a private jet owned by a business associate - and was 48 minutes late to court.

But the Virgin passenger claims Lohan was not trying to enrage law officials with her tardiness.

He tells blogger Perez Hilton, "I'm on the plane... getting ready to take off from Jfk to Lax. Lindsay Lohan is sitting across the aisle from me. They announce that we're going to have to stop for a refuel because of some fairly routine maintenance issue that will require us to fly at lower altitude than typical.

"Ms. Lohan freaks out a bit, announcing to those of us nearby, 'I have to get to court in the morning! I don't want to go back to jail!' And while the flight is waiting for approval for take-off, she's stressing big-time, pacing and making a string of phone calls.

"The flight crew was awesome, very professional and kind, working to accommodate her. At the last moment, she apologetically gets off the plane. She fretted a lot while they were waiting for an official clearance to take-off. I think that was the tipping point for her. Honestly, I feel for her. It truly wasn't a... diva moment. It was a scared-little-girl moment."

Ironically, the plane didn't need to stop for a refuel and had Lohan stayed onboard she would have made it to the courthouse in plenty of time.

In court, she struck a plea deal with prosecutors and avoided a jail sentence. She must now serve 90 days in a locked-down rehabilitation facility, complete 30 days of community service in her native New York, undergo 18 months of psychotherapy, and pay fines and restitution to the truck driver she smashed into during a crash on the Pacific Coast Highway in California last summer (Jun12).

In exchange for the jail alternative, Lohan pleaded no contest to lying to cops and reckless driving. The latter charge also carried a mandatory five days in jail, although prosecutors allowed the actress to include that in her rehab stay and she will therefore not spend any time behind bars.

She also admitted to violating her probation and was given a 180-day jail sentence, which was suspended providing she completes her rehab and community service with no further drama. As part of the deal, Lohan must stay away from drugs and submit to random testing.