Ryanair passengers were today talking about the fear and anger they experienced after being caught in the midst of a bomb scare.
After a nine-and-a-half hour delay, the Dublin-bound Boeing 737 finally touched down at 11.30pm last night.
The FR025 flight from Beauvais Airport near Paris to Dublin was diverted to Prestwick in Scotland following a security alert.
Passengers said tonight that a bomb threat had been found in an in-flight magazine and handed to an air hostess.
Despite being tired and worn out, most passengers reported being treated well by staff on board the aircraft. But Charlie Fitzgerald from Belfast accused authorities in Scotland of violating civil rights and using the ordeal as a big security exercise.
He said travellers were “left like lambs to the slaughter” as the aircraft was searched.
“We were left on the plane for two to three hours,” he said. “The pilot told us there was a bomb scare and he told us he thought it was a joke.”
“We were diverted for operational reasons, and we were getting a lot of information through, then a couple of fighter jets came alongside us.
“The crew were superb, and people weren’t panicking.
“The pilot appealed and appealed to get us off the plane.
“He said if a real bomb had been on board they would have been blown up to high heaven.”
“The whole thing was absolutely disgraceful. We had our pictures taken without permission, and statements were taken by police, who had no choice.”
Around 70 schoolgirls from St Leo’s College in Carlow were among the weary travellers. Tears were shed as many embraced with parents.
The second-year pupils had been warned not to speak to waiting reporters.
In Dublin airport, Jean-Jacque Niel was reunited with his 80-year-old mother, who had been travelling since she left her French home at 5.30am that morning.
Lucy Auburtin (aged 24) was returning to Dublin to visit Alice O’Connell, who she au-paired for last year. She said the schoolgirls had been screaming and crying on the plane, and that it was very frightening.
“We knew there was a problem, we were turning and turning,” she said. “When we saw the police around us and the Army planes we were afraid.”
“The note was written on a page on a magazine, and someone handed it to the crew.”
Another French passenger said: “The pilot was very good and gave us information all the time.
“Other people were very kind too, the only problem was the procedure because we stayed two hours on the airplane waiting.
“Some people were afraid, there was a lot of young people on board.”
Orla O’Connor, from Dun Laoghaire, was waiting for her brother Ronan (aged 23) who is studying journalism in Paris.
“He has been sitting on a runway for nearly three hours and wasn’t allowed to contact anyone until they had spoken to the police,” she said.