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Barbara Watson had visited Majorca with her family and was set to return to Manchester Airport from Palma when the pilot stopped the flight on the runway. Stewards had noticed the numbers did not add up – there was an extra person onboard.
The 64-year-old told the Manchester Evening News that a man from the previous flight had managed to sneak onto their plane.
“The flight that came in, everyone got off board and one person stayed on the bridge and was hiding,” she said. “When we all got onto the bridge, he mingled around with us and got back on board.
“The stewardesses told us that he was hiding on board waiting to see which seat was free.
“He sat in the seat, we got on the runway and the pilot stopped the flight and told us we’d have to go back to the gate as the numbers weren’t adding up.
“The senior steward asked to see the man’s boarding pass but obviously he didn’t have one because he’d come out on the flight and got back on, for whatever reason no one knows. Then someone came on and arrested him.”
Barbara, from Reddish, Greater Manchester, described the incident as a “fiasco” and said that she was worried about the welfare of her 76-year-old partner.
“Everyone was getting a bit worried and thinking had he left anything on board,” she added. “The pilot said to us all ‘can everybody stand up now and take all your luggage out of the overhead boxes and put it on the seat where you’re sitting’.
“Loads of kids were crying, including my 10-year-old granddaughter because she had heard someone say there could be a bomb onboard. Stewardesses searched all lockers, told everyone to put their own luggage back up.
“Everyone was out of their mind with worry and stewards had to come with jugs of water for everybody stuck there with engine roaring. It was an absolute fiasco.
“My partner was at the side of me. He has terminal cancer and has had a heart attack. He was using his spray and I had to calm him down so he didn’t have another.
“The captain was great, he came over and told us he’d been arrested and that they didn’t know why he’d done it but he’d been acting suspiciously.
“It was a fantastic holiday so it’s a shame that it had a bad ending.”
The flight eventually departed at 6.39pm, an hour and 20 minutes after it was supposed to.
Ryanair confirmed that police assistance was requested and apologised to passengers. The airline also said that it will ‘ensure that this error doesn’t reoccur.
A Ryanair spokesman said: “The crew of this flight from Palma to Manchester (04 Aug) requested police assistance ahead of take off after identifying a passenger that was not booked to travel on this flight.
“The passenger was removed and the crew carried out security checks again ahead of take-off, as per Ryanair procedure.
“We are working with our handling agents in Palma to ensure that this error doesn’t reoccur. Ryanair sincerely apologises to affected passengers for any inconvenience caused.”
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