Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News, 2014-02-21
A plane bound for the United Kingdom was delayed after school children alerted cabin crew to a man writing Arabic in a notebook
The easyJet service from Amsterdam to Newcastle was held up by more than two hours as around a third of a 45 strong group of 15 and 16-year-olds, believed to be from a school in Northumberland, were taken off the aircraft.
“The guy had a notebook and people were looking over at it as it had both Arabic writing and English words,” said 21 year old Technical support worker Adam Robson who was seated next to the man.
"One of the students called a flight attendant over and pointed it out. She went away, but just as we were about to take off there was a kicking and banging on my seat from behind us and the student was having a panic attack.”
“He went from the window seat into the aisle and ran to the back of the plane. The next think we know the pilot has come on and said for safety reasons we were going back to the terminal,” added Adam.
Adam said he and other passengers were kept aboard the aircraft as a number of the pupils and their luggage were taken off the aircraft – and that temperatures in the cabin soared to 30 degrees.
“The attendants had to bring us cups of cold water because it was so hot,” said Adam.
The flight eventually took off, with Adam chatting to the man, who he said seemed “completely harmless.”
“It turns out he was an Iranian masters student at Teesside University and the reason he was in Amsterdam was because his wife was studying there as she’d been unable to transfer to a North East university.
“He makes the trips regularly and he said he always carries his notebook, which he showed me.
"It had some Arabic, but the further through you went the more English it had as he had written down sections of newspapers and was using it to teach himself more of the language.
“He was really genuine.
“Thankfully he wasn’t aware of it and he didn’t understand what was going on.”
On arriving back in Newcastle Adam said he helped the man, whose name he did not know, make his way to Central Station so he could catch a train back to his home in Middlesbrough.
The pupils who got off the flight returned on another easyJet flight which landed at Stansted.
A spokesman for "easyJet confirmed that flight EZY6554 from Amsterdam to Newcastle was delayed while a number of passengers from a school group chose to move onto an alternative flight.
"This was due to a nervous young passenger in the group who raised a security issue prior to take off. The Captain fully assessed the issue and the flight was cleared for takeoff by easyJet’s security department.”