TUI flight from Paphos to Manchester diverts to Zagreb after intoxicated passenger tries to open door in mid-flight

SmartLynx A321 emergency exit

TUI holidaymakers feared for their lives after an intoxicated passenger was heard making threats before trying to open the plane’s emergency exit mid-flight. The man allegedly said to other passengers “See you in paradise” before trying to open the cabin door at cruising altitude.

On Monday 15 August, TUI Airways flight BY2731 from Paphos, Cyprus, to Manchester, UK, operated by SmartLynx Airbus A321 registered YL-LDR had already been delayed for six hours due to staffing issues. It took off at 23:20 instead of 17:20. Two and a half hours into the flight, early Tuesday morning (16 August), pilots decided to divert to Zagreb, Croatia because of a “disruptive passenger”.

Passengers told the Manchester Evening News they saw the man openly take a substance that looked like cocaine and pray on the floor, before threatening fellow holidaymakers and cabin crew.

A passenger named Kirsty, who was travelling with her husband and two children on the flight, described the incident as “the most frightening experience of my life“.

We saw the passenger take cocaine and try to open the door of the plane. This passenger pointed at me and my children and said he would “see us in heaven“, she told the newspaper.

Screams were heard throughout the plane as the man attempted to open the emergency exit, only to be eventually restrained by other passengers, Kirsty said.

The plane landed at Zagreb Airport at 01:00. After arriving in Croatia, Kirsty said there was no one at the terminal to greet the shaken passengers, adding that they had gone several hours without food or drink.

We had been sitting on the airport floor since the early hours of the morning and were eventually taken to a hotel 20 minutes from the airport,” she said. “We have just received a message saying that we should return to Manchester at 19.30 this evening.”

The delay before leaving Zagreb was due to the fact that the crew had run out of duty hours and needed a rest before taking to the air again.

A TUI spokesperson said: “We are truly sorry to all customers affected by the delay of BY2731 and the subsequent diversion due to a disruptive passenger. Unfortunately, due to continued disruptions to the aviation ecosystem, the initial flight was delayed overnight as the crew had reached their regular hours. Our TUI representatives supported customers throughout the airport and the flight departed on Monday 15th August in the evening.

“The health and safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and due to a disruptive passenger, the flight has been forced to divert to Zagreb, Croatia. The passenger has been disembarked, met by police and will not be travelling with TUI when the flight departs later today. We take a zero-tolerance approach to disruptive behaviour on our flights.

“We have a TUI team assisting customers in Croatia, keeping them informed through regular communication, finding accommodation and providing meals and refreshments.

“We thank customers for their understanding and patience and would like to reassure customers that such cases are extremely rare.”

The plane and its passengers eventually took off from Zagreb at 20:30 on 19 August and reached Manchester at 21:45, some 26 hours after schedule.

Source: Manchester Evening Standard

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