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Airline Forced to Divert and Then Cancel Flight After Unruly Passengers Are Removed Before Takeoff But Their Baggage Isn’t

Airline Forced to Divert and Then Cancel Flight After Unruly Passengers Are Removed Before Takeoff But Their Baggage Isn’t

a blue and white airplane on a runway

A TUI Airways flight from Manchester was forced to turn back less than 30 minutes into a three-and-a-half flight to Crete when the airline discovered that baggage belonging to several unruly passengers who had been removed from the flight prior to takeoff was still onboard the aircraft.

After the plane returned to Manchester, ground staff were tasked to remove the unaccompanied luggage, but by this point, the pilots and cabin crew went ‘out of hours’ and the flight had to be scrapped.

The drama unfolded on TUI Airways flight TOM2456 to Heraklion on July 6 which should have departed at 3:15 pm but didn’t ended up departing more than three hours late after a group of four disruptive passengers were removed from the plane before it had even departed.

A short time after takeoff, however, the airline says that a “discrepancy” with the baggage was discovered, and this necessitated an immediate return to Manchester.

According to flight tracking services, the Boeing 737MAX-8 aircraft was just passing London when it looped back to Manchester and landed without incident. Unfortunately, by this point, the crew didn’t have enough legal hours to work the flight, and a replacement crew couldn’t be found.

The only option, therefore, was to cancel the flight.

On a single-aisle aircraft like the Boeing 737, pilots and cabin crew can work a duty day of up to 13 hours, which can be extended by a further two hours at the discretion of the Commander in unforeseen circumstances. In this case, it’s obvious that the crew could never have got to Crete and back with the hours they had available.

Under European laws adopted by the British Civil Aviation Authority, unaccompanied baggage has to be removed from a flight unless it was separated due to factors beyond the passenger’s control or the baggage was subject to “appropriate security controls”.

For example, luggage belonging to a passenger in transit who misses a tight connection due to immigration issues can travel, whereas luggage belonging to someone who simply fails to turn up at the gate after checking in must be removed.

The only exception is when baggage has been thoroughly security screened prior to it being loaded onboard. Not all airports and airlines, however, have the capability to screen luggage to the standards required by aviation authorities.

The official name for reconciling luggage is ‘positive passenger bag matching’ or PPBM for short, and it was introduced nearly 40 years ago after a series of bombings onboard commercial aircraft.

In a statement, a spokesperson for TUI Airways said: We’d like to apologise to customers on flight TOM2456 who were delayed overnight in Manchester.”

“After a group of passengers were offloaded from the plane prior to departure, there was a discrepancy with the baggage removed therefore, the flight was required to return to Manchester. This then meant the flight crew were over the legal working hour limit.”

“We communicated with customers throughout and provided them with accommodation and meals until their new flight time.”

The airline confirmed that affected passengers will be entitled to claim EU261 flight delay compensation.

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