A sonic boom caused by RAF Typhoon fighters created a panic across the English countryside as the combat aircraft rushed to intercept a Jet2 Airliner dealing with a disruptive passenger.
The incident happened yesterday afternoon, (June 22nd) when a passenger on board a Jet2 A321 on route from Stansted to Dalaman, Turkey had to be restrained following death threats.
Jet2 flight number LS 1503 was 45 minutes into its 3hr 40min flight to the Aegean beach resort when, according to passengers on-board, a drunk or possibly drugged woman tried to get into the cockpit.
What did fellow passengers said about the incident?
When interviewed by British tabloid newspaper The Sun, 24-year-old community care officer Amy Varol from Hertfordshire said,
“This lady who was clearly intoxicated gets called to the front of the plane and she starts shouting and screaming and runs to the plane door. The cabin crew grabbed her to stop her and then she starts scratching them and hitting them. She then got pinned to the floor by cabin crew and passengers and a passenger even sat on her.
“She kept getting up and running back towards the door. She had six people sitting on her. We had to fly back to Stansted for the police to get her. She kept singing songs and screaming she’s gonna kill us, ‘I want to get off’, ‘I’m gonna f****** hit you’ ‘f***** come on then’.
“I was terrified. There’s nothing you can do, you can’t escape.”
Another passenger, Stewart Brown, who was seated six rows back from the woman, said that she started to behave strangely and irritate other passengers as soon as the aircraft took off. Again, when speaking to The Sun, the 36-year-old said,
“The air stewards did their best to calm her down. She seemed absolutely fine before take-off but then strangely very drunk or drugged as we took off. The stewards gave her several chances and did the best they could before she became abusive and then made a dash for the cockpit and had to be restrained by staff and passengers. We had to turn round and police removed her off the plane.”
Now back on the ground at Stansted, an Essex Police spokeswoman said, according to the Independent,
“We were made aware of a disruptive passenger on an inbound flight to Stansted this evening, Saturday, June 22. Officers attended and arrested a 25-year-old woman on suspicion of two assaults and endangering an aircraft. She remains in custody.”
In regards to the sonic boom, the police spokesperson said,
“There is a possibility that residents nearby may have heard a loud noise, often associated with a sonic boom, as the aircraft descended into Stansted airspace.”
When asked for their comments on the incident, the Independent reported a Jet2 spokesperson as saying,
“We are aware of an incident regarding an extremely disruptive passenger on a flight from Stansted to Dalaman earlier this evening. The aircraft has returned safely and we are liaising with the relevant authorities to support their investigation. We are working hard to ensure the remaining customers reach their destination as soon as possible.”
Simple Flying can confirm that after minimal disruptions at Stansted, flight LS 1503 took off several hours later and arrived in Turkey just after 4a.m. Sunday morning.
What about the sonic boom?
As soon as the Jet2 flight reported that they had a disruptive passenger on-board, two RAF quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Coningsby scrambled to escort the Jet2 airliner back to Stansted.
While rushing to intercept the Jet2 flight, one of the two Typhoon’s accelerated through the sound barrier, creating a sonic boom that was heard across Essex and other areas of south-eastern England.
According to the BBC, Essex police received a number of 999 emergency calls from people reporting a loud explosion and had to reassure them that it was just a military aircraft going through the sound barrier.
Military aircraft in the United Kingdom are forbidden from breaking the sound barrier unless it is in the event of an emergency, as was the case with Jet2 flight 1503.
What can be done to stop disruptive passengers?
It seems as though a week cannot go by without some sort of air rage incident. Much of the time, the disturbance is caused by a passenger who has had too much to drink. You can’t even blame the airlines for this, as they refuse to serve any passenger who appears to have had enough.
The problem comes with people drinking either before they go to the airport or while at the airport waiting for their flight. Unlike pubs in the UK, airports are exempt from the licencing laws and are permitted to sell alcohol anytime of the day or night.
This is, perhaps, why it is almost exclusively British flyers who are responsible for incidents of air rage. Saying that just a week or so ago, an American passenger on board a Delta flight to Paris, caused a disruption by hitting a member of the cabin crew.
Incidents like the one aboard the Jet2 flight endanger every passenger on the aircraft and need to be stopped.
One possible solution could be to insist passengers who appear intoxicated take a breathalyser test at the gate. If their blood alcohol level is above a certain limit, they should be prevented from boarding. If they knew beforehand that they would be prevented from getting on the flight and that they would receive no compensation, they might think twice before drinking so much.
While I know this is not a perfect solution, what do you think?