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17th Aug 2022

Praying man who said ‘see you in heaven’ tries to open door mid-flight

Charlie Herbert

One passenger described it as the ‘most frightening experience of my life’

A TUI flight was forced to make a diversion after an “intoxicated passenger” tried to open the emergency exit mid-flight.

The flight from Paphos to Manchester had already been delayed by several hours, because crew had reached their regulated hours.

But it was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Zagreb, Croatia, because of the disruptive passenger.

Fellow passengers said they saw the man taking a substance that looked like cocaine and that he was praying on the floor. He then began to make threats to other holidaymakers and cabin staff.

According to the Manchester Evening News, screams could be heard throughout the aircraft after claims that the man had tried to open the emergency exit during the flight.

But he was then restrained by members of the public.

The plane landed in Zagreb in the early hours of August 16, causing holidaymakers to be stranded for hours.

Kirsty was a passenger onboard the flight, with her husband and two children. She described it as the “most frightening experience of my life.”

She told the Manchester Evening News: “TUI allowed an intoxicated and aggressive passenger on our flight. We all felt scared when he first arrived on the plane but flight attendants were still serving him drinks.

“We watched the passenger take cocaine and try to open the plane door. I honestly thought my life was going to be taken. .”

The ‘intoxicated’ man tried to open the emergency exit during the flight, telling passengers he would ‘see them in heaven (iStock)

Another passenger, called James, said that after the lights went off so people could sleep something started to happen “at the back of the plane.”

He recalled that passengers, including an “off-duty police officer”, went to try and calm the man down.

“He was getting on his knees and said ‘I will see you all in heaven’, then he went towards the door to try and open it before three of the guys jumped on him,” he added. “There was screaming, crying and just blind panic.”

A spokesperson for TUI said: “We’re very sorry to all customers impacted by the delay to TOM2731 and subsequent diversion due to a disruptive passenger.

“Unfortunately due to ongoing disruption with the aviation ecosystem, the original flight was delayed overnight as crew had reached their regulated hours. Our TUI reps supported customers throughout and the airport and the flight departed on Monday 15 August in the evening.

“The health and safety of our customers and crew is always our highest priority and due to a disruptive passenger the flight was forced to divert to Zagreb, Croatia. The passenger was offloaded, was met by Police will not travel with TUI when the flight departs later today. We take a zero-tolerance approach to disruptive behaviour on our flights.

“We understand how frustrating this additional delay will be for our customers and apologise for the ongoing delay they now face. We have a TUI team supporting customers in Croatia, we have kept them updated with regular communication, have sourced accommodation and provided meals and refreshments.

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

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