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Angry passengers loot Ryanair flight over lengthy delays

By Anne Sewell     Jan 24, 2014 in World
Paris - Anyone who has flown on Ryanair, or any other so-called “low cost” airline would probably sympathize, at least a little, with the plight of these passengers. They got so fed up by the endless delays, they actually rebelled and looted the plane.
You know what it’s like on these “low budget” airplanes. There is no leg room, endless sales talk, you have to pay for every single little item, expensive baggage fees, unexpected extras and often lengthy delays in departure time.
In the case of this particular flight, the passengers went a little crazy after several hours of delays, and apparently helped themselves to food, drink, perfume and alcohol to cheer themselves up.
The flight was out of Rabat in Morocco, heading for Paris’ Beauvais airport, and it was supposed to take a mere two-and-a-half hours. The problem was, a passenger fell sick, and this is when the chain of events, leading to a near riot among the passengers, began.
First the flight had to divert to Madrid, to drop off the sick passenger. By that stage, the flight was so far behind schedule that landing at Beauvais or even Orly airport, south of Paris, was out of the question, as both airports have night-time flying restrictions due to noise levels.
What happened next was that the plane was forced to land at Nantes airport in western France, around 500 km (or 310 miles) away.
This is when things got just a tad tense and, well, a little ugly. Passengers, already tired and angry about the delay, were then told they would have to spend the night in Nantes. Some of them lost it completely.
Several passengers simply refused to leave the aircraft. Others allegedly stole items offered for sale on the plane, including food and drinks.
According to a baggage handler at Nantes Airport, the irate passengers showed "almost animal and barbaric behavior towards the plane, the crew and the ground staff." This was followed by airport staff having to call the police, but apparently this was too late for what had already occurred on board the plane.
Reportedly a few of the 170 passengers had literally taken the plane and its crew hostage and had stolen “cigarettes, food, alcoholic beverages, perfume and anything of value,” according to a witness.
One passenger told Metronews that he had nothing against the airport staff or the police, he said they were very professional.
However, he added, "I am neither a robber nor a hostage taker. We were tired and annoyed by a mismanaged situation. We were thirsty, hungry, and had no information on our fate.”
"We compensated ourselves by taking some drinks and food. After seven hours stuck in the plane, instead of two and a half, people needed to eat.”
Robin Kiely, a spokesman for Ryanair, told the media:
"A Ryanair flight from Rabat to Paris Beauvais (11 Jan) diverted into Madrid after a passenger became ill onboard.”
"On arrival in Madrid, the passenger disembarked and was assisted by local medical services and the aircraft continued onwards to Paris a short time later.”
"However, due to an airport curfew at Paris Beauvais the aircraft diverted to Nantes Airport. Passengers were provided with overnight hotel accommodation and were transferred to Paris Beauvais by coach the following morning.”
While not completely siding with the looters, it does make one wonder if the crew on the plane had maybe mishandled the whole situation and not informed the passengers correctly of the situation as it transpired.
The company doesn’t have the best public image these days and the airline’s CEO Michael O’Leary did acknowledge that the company needs to improve its customer satisfaction, saying at the company’s annual general meeting last year, "We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off.”
They should indeed.
More about Ryanair, Rabat, Morocco, Paris, France
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