Organisation - January 27, 2016

‘This was insane’

Albert Sikkema

Animal Sciences Managing Director Martin Scholten was in the airplane from Bangkok to Amsterdam that was forced to make a stop-over last weekend after a fellow passenger flipped. ‘This was insane. I did not feel anxious, but it was threatening.’

Scholten had visited a company in Thailand for Wageningen UR and was on a KLM flight from Bankok to Amsterdam when a young fellow passenger flipped above India. Scholten: ‘He started hitting around him, screaming out loud and trying to open the airplane door. It was quite clear that he was freaking out, he had a psychosis. He had probably used drugs in Thailand. In combination with pressure reduction in the airplane this can lead to a psychosis, explained the neurologist at the airport later.’

Four fellow passengers, including a former marine, managed to overpower the boy. It was not easy, says Scholten, because primal forces seemed to appear in the psychotic fellow passenger. Also fixing him was not easy. A combination of handcuffs and tranquilizer, administered by one of the four (!) doctors on board, finally calmed him down.

When the tranquilizer for the aggressive passenger on board started to run out, the captain decided to make a stop-over in Warsaw, also because the fuel was running out due to the detour of the flight from India. In Warsaw the boy was taken off board by the Polish police, but the other four hundred passengers stayed seated. After waiting for 3,5 hours also they had to leave the plane because the door of the plane had been damaged in such a manner that it was irresponsible to continue the flight to Amsterdam. The stranded passenger had to therefore pass the night in wintery Warsaw. Many passengers from the tropical Thailand were not dressed for this, but the next day they still, often with a detour, arrived in Amsterdam.

Scholten flies more often for Wageningen UR. ‘You experience a lot, but this was really extreme. Luckily it was quickly clear that this boy was flipping. Everyone stayed calm, there was no panic, also because we were well informed by the flight crew. But still you spend seven and a half hours with a problem case on board and you cannot get away.’