Passengers fed up after more than four hours of delays cracked and revolted against a Ryanair flight crew, disobeying orders, refusing to leave the plane and even looting some bottles of perfume and booze, France's Metronews reported.
The January 11th flight from Rabat, Morocco to Paris’s Beauvais airport was only meant to take around two and a half hours, but when a passenger fell sick it set off a chain of events that ended in a near riot when the passengers became stranded at Nantes airport.
After diverting to Madrid to drop off the sick passenger the flight was too far behind schedule to be able to land at Beauvais airport or even Orly airport to the south of Paris, which have night-time flying restrictions due to noise levels.
So the plane was forced to land at Nantes airport in the west of France nearly 500km (310 miles) away. The passengers, already fed-up from the delay, were then ready to blow a fuse when they were informed that they would have to spend the night there.
The atmosphere quickly became tense and things soon started to turn ugly. Some passengers refused to leave the aircraft, others allegedly stole food, drinks and items offered for sale on the plane, reports said.
A baggage handler at Nantes airport denounced the actions of the rebellious passengers saying they showed "almost animal and barbaric behavior towards the plane, the crew and the ground staff."
Airport staff were forced to call in the police to keep the peace, but it appears they arrived too late to prevent the sacking of the plane.
What followed was “a hostage taking of the aircraft and its crew by a group of unhappy, but especially disrespectful passengers,” Metronews reported. “Cigarettes, food, alcoholic beverages, perfume and anything of value,” were pilfered by a handful of the 170 passengers.
Metronews quoted one passenger who tried to put into context the quasi-violent reaction: “I have nothing to reproach the airport staff or the police for, they were very professional.
"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.”
Story continues below…
A video was reportedly put on YouTube showing the looting of the drinks and food trolleys, but it has since been taken down.
Ryanair’s Robin Kiely told The Local: "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.”