Spanish Government Prepared To Shoot Down Flight From London

A teenager on board an easyJet flight from London Gatwick to Menorca, Spain posted “a fake bomb threat to social media.” The Spanish government set a fighter jet to intercept the aircraft making its 808 mile flight on Sunday.

While this could have ended badly – they wouldn’t have sent the jet outside of a precaution in case they’d decided they needed to shoot it down – the military aircraft ultimately “escorted the easyJet plane all the way to its island destination.”

The 18 year old passenger was part of a group of 5 friends on the flight, and was arrested on arrival. The plane was kept away from the airport’s terminal, and passengers were held on the aircraft for two hours and eventually deplaned one at a time, asked to identify their luggage, and bused to the aircraft. All bags were inspected “by bomb detection dogs and bomb disposal experts” while other takeoffs and landings were delayed at the airport.

According to easyJet,

easyJet can confirm flight EZY8303 from London Gatwick to Menorca on 3 July was escorted by military aircraft while landing in Menorca and delayed disembarking due to precautionary security checks. The safety and security of its passengers and crew is always easyJet’s highest priority and we would like to thank passengers for their understanding

According to the Spanish Civil Guard,

The passengers were disembarked and established protocol followed until police were able to confirm it was a false bomb threat, and the person responsible was identified on social media along with five other companions as witnesses. They were taken to a police station so officers could clarify the situation.

When fighter jets are dispatched nothing usually comes of it. But it means a government is preparing to be in position to shoot down the plane.

Whenever I point this out readers jump up, “they could just be peering into the cockpit.” Right… they could be peering into the cockpit to see whether officials believe shooting down the plane is warranted.

It’s about being prepared to make a judgment call between shooting down the plane and letting terrorists on board do tremendous damage with the plane. It’s about weighing risks. But it’s easier to be willfully blind to this choice and pretend that it’s a “precautionary measure” without asking towards what end?

(HT: Paul H)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. I would not want to be a parent of that teenager. What an embarrassment. Being young and acting stupid is no excuse but they’ll get socked with the bills, which could be astronomical. Hope that kid gets scared out of his mind. It will make him grow up fast. Letting other ones know exactly what to expect from such a stunt would be a good object lesson too. The only good news–and I’m speaking from personal experience, is that eventually teens turn into adults. Or as our younger son admitted after years of complaining about our parenting, he glanced at his own kids and said, “This is harder than it looks.”

  2. Now @Gary reports on foreign aircraft intercept procedures. Again, go learn the protocols before you spout off your two cents.

  3. Bad clickbait title Gary. Sending up a fighter jet doesn’t always mean there is an intention to shoot another plane down.

  4. Perhaps there should be an informational video at the beginning of each flight, showing what the inside of a Spanish prison looks like…

    He’ll be doing hard time of a most unpleasant nature. Make sure the story gets plenty of press back in the UK after sentencing. Problem solved.

  5. Steve, Gary wrote nothing that was inconsistent with air defense protocols. (I was actively involved with air defense operations at the senior decision-making level.) While this incident involved the Spanish military, I can guarantee you that this alert rippled through NATO.

  6. @Gary – Thank you for being the first person I’ve seen spell “bused” correct in a long time.

  7. Why not just have planes have a hard overide on board to move from pilot control to remote land based control should there be a terrorist who takes over on board. This way the terrorists could never use the plane as a missile and the plane could be flown remotely via someone on land. No need to even threaten to shoot down.
    Also, why would pilots ever open the cockpit doors?

  8. “Why not just have planes have a hard overide on board to move from pilot control to remote land based control should there be a terrorist who takes over on board. This way the terrorists could never use the plane as a missile and the plane could be flown remotely via someone on land. No need to even threaten to shoot down.
    Also, why would pilots ever open the cockpit doors?”

    Bad actors could hack in and take the plane over.

    “Steve, Gary wrote nothing that was inconsistent with air defense protocols. (I was actively involved with air defense operations at the senior decision-making level.) While this incident involved the Spanish military, I can guarantee you that this alert rippled through NATO.”

    Agreed, I worked an alert squadron and saw nothing off with Gary’s brief description of the incident.

  9. I don’t get Gary’s harping about this whenever it happens. Yes, governments are prepared to shoot down airliners if they’re hijacked, as they damn well should be. What’s the alternative, just let terrorists stage another 9/11 if they managed to take over a plane?

  10. It isn’t clear why you would “shoot down the plane” on account of a bomb threat (where the bomb was not being used as the means to skyjack the plane. However, in this day and age, if someone tried to commandeer a plane with explosives, passengers and crew would probably not be inclined to surrender.

  11. @Reno Joe, What @Gary is implying is a sense of fear of what was about to happen- talking about how they were ready to shoot down the plane. Assuming you are truly a former senior level person, then you know there are many stop-gap protocols before such a decision is made. But, yet again, Gary talks about his articles to stoke a sense of knowledge of such matter, but has no clue.

    Further, if the decision is to shoot down an imminent threat aircraft vs plowing it into major metropolitan city, then so be it. While no one can be sure of ones intentions, writing a blog stating that they were ready. No. This is nothing more than an escort as a oh how do you put it? Oh, right- protocol. Ready to strike.

    I wish @Gary would just write about credit cards and let professionals talk about real aviation items.

  12. Bush/Cheney totally botched the response to 911. I would have gone Romans on a few Middle Eastern cities. No boots on the ground needed. We’ve been on a downhill spiral ever since.

  13. This just shows that teenagers are idiots. At 18, he should know better. Hopefully time in a Spanish prison will give him some common sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.