Ryanair overreacted, says Cork man removed from Ibiza flight

Flight from Dublin diverts to Paris Beauvais,and three ‘disruptive’ passengers removed

Ryanair has called for a two-drink limit per passenger and no airport alcohol sales before 10am. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ryanair has called for a two-drink limit per passenger and no airport alcohol sales before 10am. Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

One of the men removed from a diverted Ryanair flight on Saturday for allegedly causing a drunken disturbance on the aircraft has described the airline’s reaction as “a disgrace” and “over the top”.

Niall Harrington from Cork said he was one of three men taken off a flight traveling from Dublin to Ibiza on Saturday after it diverted to Paris Beauvaisover concerns the crew had about the behaviour of some of a 20-strong group.

Mr Harrington told Cork radio station Red FM the three people removed from the flight were part of a 20-person stag party on a flight from Dublin to Ibiza.

He said a problem arose when his friend opened small bottle of vodka on the flight. This man was asked by a flight attendant to put it away, which he did, but he took it out later.

“There was no disruptive behaviour. It was just good fun.”

In a statement Ryanair said a “flight from Dublin to Ibiza (on June 16th) diverted to Paris Beauvais after three passengers became disruptive inflight. The aircraft landed normally and the passengers were removed and detained by police upon arrival, before the aircraft continued to Ibiza. We will not tolerate unruly or disruptive behaviour at any time and the safety and comfort of our customers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority. This is now a matter for local police.”

Fake News

Mr Harringtondescribed subsequent reports of drunken misbehaviour by the group on the plane as “fake news”.

“It was not like that at all.”

Mr Harrington said when he heard the flight had been diverted to Beauvais airport he thought it was a joke. He was shocked when French police boarded the flight and took away his friend.

Minutes later the police returned for Mr Harrington and another friend who had been sitting with the man who opened the vodka.

“Everyone was in total shock. It was pretty intense when the police came on.”

He said he heard an air hostess say to the police “get the fat guy with glasses”. This was a reference to one of the other men, not the man who had opened the vodka bottle, who had asked why the others were being taken off the flight, Mr Harrington said.

The three men were taken to a room where they were asked for their side of the story. Within an hour they were released and told they could go. The three men then got a taxi to Charles de Gaulle airport at a cost of €140 from where they got a flight to Palma and from there on to Ibiza.

They have since been contacted by Ryanair to tell them they are now banned from the airline so they will now have to find a flight on another airline to get home on Tuesday. It is expected the three people removed from the flight will fly to Belfast and then take a coach or train to Cork.

‘No real messing’

Mr Harrington was adamant there was no shouting and no unruly behaviour from the group.

“We had a couple of pints at the airport, that was all.” He said the group had travelled from Cork to Dublin at 3am on a coach on which there was no alcohol. “There was no real messing, just people having a laugh among themselves.

“Before we knew it the plane had landed and guys were coming up with guns in our faces.

“Other people on the flight could not believe what happened. We’ve met some of them here in Ibiza.”

He described Ryanair’s reaction as over the top and a disgrace. He said the airline was now trying to justify the fact that they diverted the flight.

“I asked if it was necessary to do this for one person. But we were guilty by association.”

Mr Harrington asked other people on the flight to contact Ryanair to complain about the airline’s reaction.

Ryanair responded yesterday by calling for significant changes to prohibit the sale of alcohol at airports, such as a two-drink limit per passenger and no alcohol sales before 10am.

Restrictions

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has described the Ryanair’s suggestion of restrictions on the sale of alcohol at airports during he morning as “highly draconian”.

“The behaviour of some individuals on the Ryanair flight in question was clearly unacceptable,” a spokeswoman for the DAA said on Monday.

She pointed out that Dublin Airport had “worked in the past with Ryanair and other airlines, the Irish Aviation Authority, the gardaí and airport police on a joint education campaign to stress that such behaviour in totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated at the airport”.

The spokeswoman said the airport would continue to work “with its airline customers and all other agencies in relation to this issue and will again remind the licence holders in its bars and restaurants of their responsibilities in this area”.

However, she said Ryanair’s suggested response was “a highly draconian one that would affect all passengers because of the behaviour of a very, very small minority of airline travellers”.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, has said the airline might consider not selling alcohol on flights before 10am.

Mr Jacobs told RTÉ’s News at One he believed alcohol was involved in the incident, but said it was rare that a flight had to be diverted.

He said not only were the remaining passengers on board the original flight delayed and inconvenienced, but so too were 180 passengers in Ibiza awaiting a return flight.

He called on the DAA to introduce a system where people have to show their boarding pass to buy alcohol (as with duty free purchases), with a limit of two drinks.

This would require only a small amount of effort, and he felt that the vast majority of people would be happy with such an arrangement.