RYANAIR passengers have told of "scary" scenes onboard a flight from Dublin to Malta after travellers heading to a music festival started brawling following a drunken "rave" mid-air.
Flight FR7242 was delayed by 45 minutes before take-off on Tuesday when a group of fliers at the back of the plane began playing loud music and refused to take their seats.
The jet eventually took off to a soundtrack of dance music "blaring all over the plane" before the troublemakers got back to their feet again at cruising altitude, according to witnesses.
Journalist Kieran Dineen, who travelled on the flight, said "chaos" quickly erupted after the seat-belt signs went off with several passengers fighting each other, dancing on seats and shouting at cabin crew.
Speaking on RTÉ News at One, he said as many as 150 of the 180 passengers aboard the plane were heading to a dance festival in Malta and many of the mostly young fliers were "quite inebriated".
He described how one man was held down in the aisle for the last 40 minutes of the flight after becoming particularly unruly.
"Several fights broke out and there was one man pinned to the ground by two other men to keep him under control," Kieran said.
"There were punches thrown and one man was held up to the window of the plane by his neck for a long duration of the flight, so it was quite a scary experience especially for those people not interested in the dance festival".
The journalist described how trouble began on the flight long before take-off.
"We were late taking off because people kept jumping out of their seats, some were shouting at the stewards," he added.
"We took off to the sound of dance music which was blaring all over the plane.
"When we got up in the air the real messing started when large groups congregated beside both bathrooms where the drink carts were. They bought a lot of drinks and large bottles from the duty free were opened, bottles of rum, bottles of vodka, being downed on the plane.
"One man walked up and down the plane with a big bottle of vodka for people to take sips out of."
Another witness said: "There was one perpetrator in particular that kept starting trouble and then towards the end of the flight he came up near the top of the plane to use the toilet and was causing hassle with passengers and cabin crew again.
"He wouldn't calm down and was getting angry... a man I believe was an off duty Garda took him down carefully."
A female passenger described the flight as a "terrifying" ordeal, adding: "I have never been more scared in my life".
She said: "It was like a rave, they had a boom box going full pelt. One guy was running up and down pouring vodka from duty free into people's glasses.
"There was mayhem up there. One passenger asked for the flight to be diverted. He was as terrified as the rest of the tiny minority who weren't drunk out of their minds.
"Cops arrived when we landed and around half a dozen of the worst offenders were taken away after being pointed out by airline staff."
In a statement, Ryanair confirmed several individuals had been arrested upon arrival by Maltese police.
A spokesperson for the budget airline said: "The crew of this flight from Dublin to Malta (April 30) requested police assistance upon arrival after several passengers became disruptive in-flight.
"The aircraft landed normally and police removed and detained these individuals.
"We will not tolerate unruly or disruptive behaviour at any time and the safety and comfort of our customers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority. This is now a matter for local police."