Shocked easyJet passengers gazed out the window to find their plane being escorted by a Spanish fighter jet after a teenager allegedly made a bomb threat on board.
Footage shows a F18 warplane flying closely beside a A319 carrying holidaymakers from Gatwick Airport in London to Menorca.
EasyJet confirmed the unusual incident, saying the plane was intercepted due to ‘precautionary security checks’.
It later emerged that an 18-year-old had been arrested after being accused of posting a menacing remark online.
Sniffer dogs and specialist officers had raced to the scene to assess the situation, concluding that the bomb threat had been fake.
Travellers were held on the runway for four hours after landing half an hour late on the Spanish Balearic island.
Now, the suspect could be forced to pick up a tab running into the thousands to pay for the police operation and the scrambling of the military jet.
The teenager is believed to have travelled to the sunny holiday spot for celebration with a group of friends.
The alarm was sounded as the easyJet plane – flight EZY8303 – was close to landing just before 5pm on Sunday.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rules state that fighter jets should only intercept civilian planes as a ‘last resort’.
In the video, the pilot can be seen tipping the wings at the easyJet plane – code for ‘follow me’.
The F18 fighter jet is famous for being flown in Tom Cruise’s new film Top Gun: Maverick.
Capable of supersonic speeds up to 1,190mph, they have the ability to carry a variety of weapons including air-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles and air-to-ground missiles.
They are used by the Spanish Air Force and the US Marine Corps among others.
A spokesman for the Civil Guard said today: ‘The Civil Guard has arrested an 18-year-old British national as the alleged author of a crime of public disorder in Mahon in Menorca.
‘Yesterday (SUN) the control tower at Menorca Airport was alerted to a bomb threat on a plane heading from London to the island capital Mahon which was still in the air and nearing the airport. The threat was said to have been sent on a social media platform.
‘Once the plane landed it was taken to an area away from the main terminal and other aircraft.
‘The Civil Guard organised a special operation which consisted of mobilising bomb disposal experts as well as sniffer dogs and other officers who created a safe perimeter around the plane.
‘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.’
An easyJet spokesman added: ‘easyJet can confirm flight EZY8303 from London Gatwick to Menorca was escorted by military aircraft while landing in Menorca and delayed disembarking due to precautionary security checks. The passengers have since disembarked.
‘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.’
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more stories like this, check our news page.