Passengers on board the Monarch flight from Gibraltar to Manchester on Monday evening were all subjected to luggage checks by UK border officers on arrival, in an unusual development that caused lengthy delays for travellers.
As they collected their luggage, passengers from the Gibraltar flight were told they would all be subjected to checks.
While random checks are common at UK airports, it is unusual for an entire plane to be targeted in this way.
A passenger on the flight said every item of luggage arriving from Gibraltar was scanned, adding that he took over an hour to clear customs.
“I’ve never seen this being done before,” the passenger told the Chronicle.
“The flight was full so you can imagine the time it took to clear the complete plane.”
“Every single case was scanned and when we asked why, we were told it was mainly for tobacco.”
According to the passenger, no other flights appeared to have been targeted in the same manner.
A UK Home Office spokeswoman told the Chronicle that the checks were “routine operational activity” and that officers were not just searching for tobacco but for a “range of things”.
She was unable to clarify whether it was normal for all passengers on board an aircraft to be checked in this way.
The airline Monarch looked into it and told the Chronicle that “it is a decision taken by Customs at the airport to scan bags and not one that involves the airline.”
A spokesman for the Gibraltar Government said the issue was being looked into but could add no further comment at this stage.
Pic by Eyleen Sheil