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Aer Lingus passengers were left terrified at 30,000ft

Aer Lingus passengers were left terrified at 30,000ft after as a man sitting in the emergency exit suffered a severe medical episode.

The flight, which had left Malaga, was diverted to Nantes Airport in France.

The passenger, believed to be in his 20s, was seen trying to open the emergency exit while travelling to Belfast with his father and brother.

“The first thing I heard was a woman screaming something and then I saw her standing in the aisle and she was saying the man in the seat beside her was trying to open the emergency exit. She was screaming for help,” an onlooker from Antrim told Belfast Live.

There were 175 passengers on Aer Lingus Flight EI049 flying from Malaga to George Best City Airport on Tuesday night.

The crew on the flight have been praised for the efforts and it was agreed that the man needed urgent medical care.

The passenger continued: “It all happened very fast. One passenger, who it turned out was a doctor who works at the Royal Victoria Hospital, literally jumped out of his seat and ran to the man who was in trouble.

“All I saw was this big man bounding over other passengers to reach the emergency exit. It was incredible.

“He managed to hold the man in a bear hug and three other passengers, who were GPs, also helped out with the Aer Lingus crew.

“The young man appeared very confused and upset but he seemed unaware of what he was actually doing.

“There was a call for insulin in the cabin and then things very quickly calmed down and the captain announced that we were diverting to Nantes in France.”

A spokesman for Aer Lingus confirmed the incident and the aircraft spent 40 minutes in France.

“Aer Lingus flight EI049 departed Malaga at 18:31pm local time en route to George Best Belfast City Airport with 175 guests and crew on board.

“The flight diverted into Nantes due to a medical emergency on board.

“The aircraft landed safely at Nantes at 19:22 local time. The aircraft departed Nantes at 20:40 en route for Belfast.”

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3 Comments

Sylvia Todd

What a fair and frank account you have given of this incident without all the melodramatics and nasty comments that some people usually write. You seem like a very decent understanding person and I wish others were more like you in a situation such as this. Well done, glad you all ok and hope the young man in question gets sorted, I’m sure his family were mortified.

    John Williams

    Appreciate that lovely comment Sylvia. Hopefully by now, the young fella will be at home with his family.

    People tend to forget that even though we were there..imagine the terror and panic that he himself must have felt in order to try and open the door in the first place.

    Thanks again to the flight crew (especially the off duty girl who sat at the exit with the handle down and the light lit immediately after until we landed safely at Nantes). Her doing that immediately reassured us.

    The doctors onboard were also fantastic and one of them sat holding him in the aisle while we landed to ensure he was safe without worrying about themselves.

John Williams

It spent 72 mins in France, not 40. Also, they asked for any diabetics to make themselves known. They were not at anytime asking for insulin. I was seated 4 rows behind the fella. He was also traveling with his mum, dad and brother who seemed to be in shock immediately after. Their calmness is what struck me most. All 4 left the plane at Nantes and the captain said “For security reasons, we have to remove the passengers bags from the hold”

It was terrifying to watch unfold. I know now that he couldn’t have opened it but in that moment I thought this is how it ends.

I wish him a speedy recovery.

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