An easyJet flight from Manchester to Marrakech was diverted to Lisbon because a ‘legless’ passenger allegedly grabbed one of the cabin crew by the neck and racially abused passengers.
The flight, carrying 200 passengers, was met by emergency services when it touched down in Lisbon and holidaymakers had to stay in hotels in the Portuguese capital overnight.
They then had to complete the remaining leg of the journey the following day.
An easyJet flight from Manchester to Marrakech was diverted to Lisbon and met by emergency services when it touched down in the Portuguese capital
A passenger, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Manchester Evening News: ‘The passenger appeared to be legless before he boarded the plane and he was given a drink by other passengers consuming their own alcohol.
‘We were only an hour from Marrakech when we could see the plane descending.
‘Then the captain spoke and said there had been an incident. Then one of the cabin crew said a passenger had got hold of his neck twice because he was drunk.
‘The cabin crew said he was being racist to other passengers too. It was all happening at the front of the plane but we were sitting at the back near to where cabin crew were discussing it.
‘We landed and police came on the plane and then we were told we’d have to spend the night there. Around 200 passengers were then bussed to hotels – one of which was an hour away. The whole experience was awful.’
Another disgruntled passenger tweeted a video of the emergency services outside the plane at Lisbon, along with the caption: ‘Well played easyJet letting p****d passengers on a flight that racially abuse cabin members and disrupting people’s holidays to Marrakech.’
Witnesses described the passenger as being ‘legless’ and the plane was met by emergency services when it touched down in Lisbon
A spokesman for the airline confirmed the flight had been diverted to Lisbon and delayed overnight.
He said: ‘The aircraft was met by police upon arrival.
‘Whilst such incidents are rare we take them very seriously, do not tolerate abusive or threatening behaviour on board and always push for prosecution. The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew is always easyJet’s priority.
‘Unfortunately easyJet had to delay the flight overnight. All affected passengers were communicated with regularly and every effort was made to minimise the impact of the delay.
‘Refreshment vouchers and hotel accommodation were provided to our passengers. We would like to thank the passengers for their understanding and apologise sincerely for any inconvenience experienced.’
The flight, carrying 200 passengers, was met by emergency services when it touched down in Lisbon
As highlighted by a recent BBC Panorama documentary, the number of air passengers arrested for drunken misbehaviour on British flights or at British airports has risen by 50 per cent in the past year.
Figures obtained by Panorama from 18 out of 20 police forces with a major UK airport on their patch revealed a surge in arrests for drunken behaviour on flights or at UK airports.
There was a total of 387 in the year to February 2017, up from 255 in the period from February 2015 to 2016, according to the statistics.
A survey of 4,000 cabin crew by Unite found that one in five has been assaulted during a flight, and more than half have either experienced or witnessed verbal, sexual or physical harassment.
A House of Lords report this April recommended that restrictions on alcohol sales at airports should be applied, but the idea has been deemed too difficult to implement.
Last month newlyweds Darren and Nadia Stanway got so drunk before their honeymoon flight to Malta that concerned airline staff called the police.
Darren, 39, from Congleton in Cheshire, said he had been drinking beer and that Nadia, 34, had downed three bottles of wine in their taxi to Manchester Airport last month. Arriving too late to board their plane, the couple had a furious row and Darren was charged with public disorder.
Back in May, a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Jamaica had to make an unscheduled landing in Bermuda after a drunken man allegedly became abusive to cabin crew.
In June, a smartphone video clip of mother-of-three Tracey Bolton, 39, straddling sous chef Shaun Edmondson, 31, on a Manchester to Ibiza Ryanair flight went viral on social media. Tracey, an ordinarily respectable café owner, described herself as ‘mortified’ by the incident and blamed ‘drunken madness’.