A British man caused panic on an easyJet flight from France to Britain after he was found to have had a 6cm knife in his hand luggage.
The incident occurred as the flight, from Toulouse-Blagnac airport to Bristol, was about to depart on Friday March 10th.
According to reports in the local French press, police entered the aircraft and began searching the hand luggage of the British man, who was sitting near the cockpit.
They found a 6cm to 7cm “butterfly” knife in his bag and the passenger was escorted off the flight, to the other passengers' relief.
But then 30 minutes later the man was allowed to return and re-take his seat for the now-delayed flight to Bristol. According to reports, the passengers were having none of it.
Especially after one of them reported to a member of staff that they man had allegedly told them “he could bring down the plane if he wanted” as they were waiting to board the air craft.
According to reports in the La Depeche newspaper the public made their feelings known to staff and in a bid to calm their nerves the captain ordered the suspicious passenger back into the hands of police.
While initial reports of the incident gave reason to suggest the story of a man “with a worrying profile” who was able to board an aircraft with a knife should spark alarm, the incident has since been played down by airport border police in Toulouse.
While they have not responded to the The Local's request for comment, a senior member of the force, told La Depeche newspaper that the British man “had the right to carry the knife on board”.
“The airport's security teams, who checked the man's hand luggage, did not commit any fault, given that the Leatherman knife (a kind of Swiss penknife) that they found is authorized on planes.”
In lines with European laws on airport checks “it is possible to board an aircraft with a knife whose blade is no bigger than 6cm,” the policeman explained.
He said the reason police boarded the plane to confiscate the knife is that several concerned passengers had spotted it during the security checks and complained to easyJet staff that he had been allowed to take it on board.
And when it came to the passenger's alleged statement to fellow flyers that he could “bring down the aircraft if he wanted”, the deputy director of the Haute-Garonne border police suggested “a word or a phrase, had been badly understood”.
Whether it was a misunderstanding or not and even if the man was within his legal rights to take a small knife on board, the panicked passengers were not willing to have him on board their flight.
Once he was removed for a second time by the captain, police looked into his profile but he did not present any worrying history that would have justified him not being able to fly.
He was later released without charge. Although it is not clear whether he took an alternative flight to the UK.
As for the plane he was kicked off, it took off two hours later with a group of nervous passengers. Their nerves were shredded even further when they were told a technical problem meant the engine was making some strange noises during the flight, although thankfully it wasn't considered a serious problem.
The incident occurred just a day after a radicalized Frenchman was able to board a Ryanair flight from Nantes to Morocco, whilst carrying knives and a gas bottle in his luggage in the hold.
The Local has requested a comment on this story from easyJet.
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