Walsall man's ordeal on Tui plane after 'intoxicated passenger' tries to open emergency doors

A man from Walsall has shared his horror experience on a Tui flight that had to make an emergency landing after an intoxicated passenger tried to open the emergency door mid-flight.

A Tui plane
A Tui plane

Holidaymakers were fearing for their lives on the Tui flight after the alleged intoxicated passenger was seen drinking, and taking what looked like cocaine on the flight before saying "we're all going to die" and trying to open the emergency exit door mid-flight.

Chris Smith, 47, from Pelsall, Walsall said he still cannot believe what happened and is struggling to come to terms with it all.

He said: "The in-air incident was very scary - we had people screaming and shouting, children screaming.

"There was a guy onboard drinking heavily and taking cocaine on the plane and in front of flight attendants. There was a big disruption and then he calmed down but then a big commotion broke out.

"He got up and said we are all going down, started praying, and started shouting really loud, saying that we are all going to die. He then tried to open the emergency exit door until another passenger punched him twice and then luckily two off-duty officers restrained him.

"It was all surreal, we cannot believe what happened."

The Tui flight was travelling from Paphos, Cyprus to Manchester last week Monday, August 15.

Passengers sitting around Airport floors. Photo: Chris Smith

A spokesperson from Tui said in a statement: "We’re very sorry to all customers impacted by the delay to TOM2731 and subsequent diversion due to a disruptive passenger.

"Unfortunately the original flight was impacted by knock-on operational delays and was held overnight as crew had reached their regulated hours. Our TUI reps supported customers throughout at the airport and the flight departed on Monday August 15.

"Our flight crew are trained to put customer and colleague safety first, and so, due to a disruptive passenger mid-flight, the decision was made to divert to Zagreb, Croatia. The passenger was offloaded, was met by police and did not travel with TUI on the rescheduled flight. We have no evidence of claims circulating on social media about this incident.

"We understand how frustrating this will have been for our customers and apologise for the extended delay. Our teams met customers at Manchester Airport when they landed to provide additional support.

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

Chris Smith, who was travelling with his wife Sarah Smith and their 15-year-old daughter along with her friend, criticised Tui for their treatment and response throughout the incident.

Passenger Chris Smith pictured sitting on airport floor in Zagreb, Croatia. Photo: Chris Smith

Chris said: "It has been a complete Tui disaster. We have been told by Tui that we can claim compensation. £350 per person for the cancelled flight and also receive a £150 per person holiday voucher.

"The initial flight to Manchester was delayed, cancelled and then rescheduled.

"Whilst waiting for the flight we were made to stand outside the airport in Paphos for four hours. There was a plane full of people standing around, lying on the floor, including children and elderly people.

"We had no food or water during this. A Tui rep later handed out six bottles of water for a couple hundred people.

"After four hours we finally got a coach which us took us to a hotel. Then later in the day we got notified of flight details and we headed to the airport, only to be delayed for another three to four hours but this time we were handed food vouchers.

"Then we boarded the flight but two and a half hours into it, the whole incident happened and we had to make an emergency landing.

"No one knew where we were, not even the staff. It wasn't until we landed that the pilot made an announcement saying we had landed in Zagreb, Croatia.

"It was now Tuesday around 2am - the cabin crew left the airport but all of us passengers were left to ourselves with no help or advice.

Passengers wait to board a coach late at night after their cancelled flight. Photo: Chris Smith

"We spent the whole night/early morning in Zagreb airport on the floors of the arrivals terminal. Families, children and elderly people were sleeping on the floors.

"There was no Tui rep there, but they sent us emails saying they are trying to organise something for us.

"Around midday we were notified by email that coaches were coming to pick us up and take us to an airport. We were taken to a nice hotel, got to freshen up and have lunch, and then a Tui rep arrived at the hotel saying we had a flight around 7.30pm in the evening.

"The man that caused all the disruption was not arrested or anything. He was left to roam around the airport in Zagreb with us, and he had another altercation with some guys in the airport.

"For the flight back to Manchester from Zagreb we all said to the Tui rep that we will not get on the plane if he was allowed on too, and so they did not allow him back on with us.

"We haven't come to terms with what happened - we cannot believe what happened. It was all surreal."

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