Belfast Telegraph

'Sex harassment' rugby player is ejected from Belfast-bound flight

The passenger is escorted off the plane
The passenger is escorted off the plane
The passenger is spoken to by police officers
Others disembark the easyJet aircraft

By Sarah Lumley

A "disgusting" rugby player delayed a flight to Northern Ireland for over 90 minutes as he was taken off a plane after allegedly sexually harassing a female cabin crew member.

The Belfast-bound easyJet service was originally due to take off from Bristol Airport at 12.55pm on Friday but was delayed after a group of rugby players caused chaos.

Travellers said they were "intimidated" and "sickened" by a "raucous" rugby group aboard the plane - one of whom had to be escorted off.

It was as the plane was taxiing to take off after cabin crew had carried out the safety demonstration that the incident occurred.

"One of the men got out of his seat, when we were all supposed to have our seatbelts on, and walked down the aisle towards two female members of staff," said one passenger.

"I couldn't hear what he said to them, but one of the women said: 'I am treating this as sexual harassment'.

"Then an announcement came over saying that something had happened on board, and the plane would have to return to its parking bay and wait for police."

Passenger Rachel Davies said: "It was horrible, it was really dreadful.

"It was a group of about 20-30 men, aged in their 40s and 50s, and even at the gate they were making a real show of themselves.

"Some of them had definitely had a few drinks.

"They were being so loud you couldn't hear yourself speak.

"I just had a feeling that something was going to happen on the flight.

"So, as I had priority boarding, I alerted the cabin crew when I got on the flight."

Another passenger said: "They were so loud as they were coming across the tarmac to board the plane that the pilot even came out of the cockpit to see what the noise was.

"As they were escorting him (the ejected passenger), the lady in the cabin crew was in floods of tears, and was saying that she didn't feel safe on that flight.

"It was quite intimidating. One of his friends left the flight with him, for support, and then we set off. What sickened me most was that, after we got off the flight, as we were waiting for the carousel to get our bags, all the other men in the group burst into laughter.

"They were saying things like she was only looking for a bit of compensation, and that they'd said worse things to their mothers. It was just dreadful. You'd think people would be a bit more careful."

While the passenger praised easyJet's zero tolerance approach towards the man's behaviour, she believes Bristol Airport should have done more to stop the group taking the plane.

She added: "One man was slurring his words as he spoke. They should have been curbed at the gate before they were allowed to board the flight."

Bristol Airport said: "We want all passengers flying from Bristol Airport to have an enjoyable start to their journey.

"But anti-social behaviour by a minority can spoil the experience for everyone. Any anti-social behaviour by a passenger is not accepted by the airport or airlines, and could result in passengers being refused travel.

"We will assist the police with their investigations.

"Disruptive behaviour on-board an aircraft is illegal and the worst cases can result in fines, travel bans and custodial sentences."

EasyJet apologised for any inconvenience caused by the forced delay.

It said: "EasyJet's cabin crew are trained to assess and evaluate all situations and to act quickly and appropriately, to ensure that the safety of the flight and other passengers is not compromised at any time.

"While such incidents are rare we take them very seriously, we do not tolerate abusive or threatening behaviour onboard.

"We would like to apologise to passengers for the delay and thank them for their understanding.

"The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew is always easyJet's priority."

Avon and Somerset Constabulary said: "While we may have been there to provide support, we did not specifically get involved and no one was arrested."

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