Tourists held on plane over contagious disease scare
Published 20/08/2008 | 09:49
Passengers on a busy Ryanair flight were "trapped" on board for over an hour after they landed in Dublin over fears a young girl had been struck down with a contagious disease.
Passengers were forced to stay on board the Ryanair flight from Luqa Airport in Malta to Dublin because no 'fit to travel' medical documentation was available for a young girl with chickenpox.
After the three-and-a-half-hour flight from Malta landed in Dublin at 3.45pm on Saturday, cabin crew refused to let passengers off the plane over fears the child could have spread the disease to others on board.
And adding to the stress of the prolonged wait on the Dublin airport tarmac, cabin crew refused to let an airport-based HSE doctor examine the young girl -- preferring to wait to contact the family's own GP.
"A doctor from the airport was called when they landed and he had one of those mechanical stairs driven to the door. That was at least half an hour in, but they wouldn't let him get on," said a witness.
"My wife and kids were on the flight, they'd been off on a holiday in Malta, and when the plane landed at 3.45pm I got a message from them saying they've landed.
"The next thing I get another message saying everyone's been told to sit down and that the crew won't let them off the plane because someone at the back of the plane might have caught something.
"They were waiting there for over an hour and a guy even presented himself as a doctor but was told they wouldn't let him on.
"Nobody told the passengers anything other than the child was sick at the back of the plane and they needed to be examined," the source continued.
"Everyone was left completely in the dark. Even the Ryanair staff at the airport didn't seem to know what was going on, and I don't think they were trying to pull the wool over people's eyes -- they just didn't know," he said.
A spokesperson for Ryanair has confirmed that the incident involved a young child who was returning from a family holiday and had contracted chickenpox.
"The child aboard the flight was suspected of having chicken-pox and the delay period was to allow staff to verify with a doctor whether the child had passed the infection period," said the Ryanair spokesperson.