Often the end of the holiday marks a disappointment, but for two Ryanair Passengers, Rafik Boutiche and Islam Fessih from London, the end of their holiday in the Algarve marked a much bitter end to their break.
The pair were returning from a music festival when a female flight attendant claimed Rafik ‘objected to moving seat’. Police were called onboard when the row escalated when Rafik – who was assigned a seat toward the back of the aircraft – attempted to move forward into an empty seat close to his friend Islam, a frequent move by travellers to be seated alongside friends/relatives. The pair noted that “others on the plane were doing the same thing”, something “crew members didn’t object to. “He sat in front of me because there was a free seat, but she said he had to move.” Rafik told journalists, with friend Islam further adding that the ‘assault’ on the flight attendant was only “accidental contact with the stewardess.”
The crew member then allegedly ran to the back of the aircraft, calling local authorities, and the next moment crew were onboard: “We didn’t know what was happening” the pair tell. Distressing footage has since circulated, clearly showing Portuguese officers attempting to drag Rafik off the aircraft despite upset passengers shouting: “You’re hurting him.” and “he didn’t push her” – Plees wholly ignored by authorities.
After police mis-handled him, Rafik said he willingly walked off the plane. “There were a lot of nice people on the plane, I didn’t want to ruin it for them, so I got up and walked off the plane,” he stated. Sharing the footage on social media after, the incident has gained traction with thousands of views on social media. Speaking with Travel Correspondent Stephen Stacey: “Summertime is a key time for travellers travelling to and returning from overseas vacations; The scenes shown in the video are horrific and what no traveller should face on their return home.” Despite requests to the airline and police, both have declined to reply. It is however rumoured the pair were sent an email the following day prohibiting them to fly with the carrier: “Please do not make any reservations with Ryanair, as once you log your personal details, our system will highlight your reservation and you will be denied travel without refund.”
Looking beyond the incident, a worrying trend can be seen with more and more travellers facing ‘forced removal’ from aircraft. The story comes after several prior incidents onboard the airline amongst others, including the infamous United Airways flight 3411 and previous inaction from Ryanair about treatment of passengers on-board, not just by passengers, but also crew. Is it time for governing organisations, such as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to enforce stricter regulations for ‘forced removals’? What are your thoughts on the story? Get in touch via: [email protected]