On 5th August 2014, passengers on board a Qatar Airways flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester were shocked when they looked out of the aeroplane window to see an RAF Typhoon jet flying beside them. The RAF jet was instructed by the military to escort the passenger plane to land safely at Manchester Airport after suspicion arose about one of the passengers on board. Police reported that the pilot was given a note from a passenger about a possible device on board. This information was passed into the military who took immediate action. There were 269 passengers along with 13 crew members on board, so their safety was paramount. Whenever there is a slight indication of danger, the military will take the necessary precautions. As soon as the pilot requested assistance the RAF Typhoon aircraft took off from Royal Air Force station Coningsby in Lincolnshire as a quick reaction alert.
The RAF jet tailed the passenger plane for the remaining duration of the flight until landing at Manchester Airport. Armed police immediately boarded the plane and arrested a 47-year-old man who was thought to be responsible for the bomb hoax. Greater Manchester Police said that the man from the North West of England was being held in custody for questioning. All flights in and out of Manchester Airport were suspended for approximately 25 minutes and so the disruption did not cause too much flight delay. Functioning at Manchester Airport returned back to normal at approximately 16.20 BST.
Needless to say the remaining 268 passengers on board were extremely shaken up during the flight as crew members kept information about the jet to a minimum. Some passengers were understandably petrified regarding the situation. Everything became clear once the plane landed as armed police removed the suspect from the aircraft. One passenger reported that the man was searched and then he disembarked the aircraft with his hands above his head being escorted by the police. The man seemed calm as he left the plane.
This is a very unusual circumstance, as RAF Typhoons very rarely launch into the sky to escort a passenger plane to safety. Due to this, nine flights that were scheduled to land at Manchester Airport had to be diverted to other airports, five of which landed at Leeds Bradford International Airport. Quite clearly none of the passengers on board these flights would be entitled to claim flight delay compensation for the flight disruption. According to European regulation, passengers can only claim compensation if the delay was a minimum of 3 hours. EC Regulation 261/2004 outlines these passenger rights. However, even if flight QR23 was delayed for 3 hours, passengers would not have been able to claim flight delay compensation or a flight delay refund as Qatar Airways is not a European airline. Flights departing the EU qualify for compensation regardless of the airline, but for international flights departing from outside of the EU and arriving at an airport located in the EU it would have to be a European airline to qualify for compensation.