Passengers Stage Protest on Ryanair Flight
The passengers, mostly French tourists flying home from Fez, Morocco, were trying to get to an airport near Paris. But their flight took off three hours late due to weather, and the airport in Beauvais, France had closed for the night.
The plane instead landed at the Liege airport in southern Belgium, at 11:30 p.m., apparently without any announcement from crew about the change.
When the passengers realized they were in Belgium, and would be taking buses home, they staged a sit-in.
"The plane didn't land in Beauvais but in Liege without warning us. Consequently, we refused to leave the plane," says Mylene Netange, who happens to run a network for business leaders on social responsibility.
"We were all tired after a long journey and angry at being dumped 200 miles away in Belgium," says Reda Yahiyaoui, who was traveling with his wife, a two-month-old baby and three-year-old. "We just wanted to get back home so we sat on the plane asking to be flown to France."
The crew responded to the protestors by locking the bathrooms, turning off the lights and leaving the passengers alone on the plane without water, food or toilets, the passengers say.
Even the pilot got off the plane, leaving the cockpit door open, Yahiyaoui says.
Several hours of negotiations followed before airport officials were able to convince the protestors to leave the plane.
"The negotiation was so difficult that we weren't sure they would come out," an airport firefighter tells the AFP news service. "People are obviously outraged."
The protest lasted four hours, the passengers finally agreeing to get off the plane and take the buses at 3:30 a.m. Passengers on three other diverted flights took buses without incident.
A Ryanair spokesman says in a statement the protestors remained on the aircraft until requested to disembark by airport police.
"This is now a matter for the police," he says. "Ryanair thanks the majority of passengers who followed crew advice and apologizes to them for the inconvenience of these weather related diversions. All passengers were coached onward to Beauvais."
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Photo, aromano, flickr