Breaking news took a new social turn when a passenger trapped on the Qatar Airways flight escorted into Manchester Airport by a fighter jet under suspicion of having a “possible device being on board” started live tweeting his experience.
The Airbus A330, flying from Doha, received an RAF fighter escort after the pilot received word of a possible threat on board. Flights in and out of the airport have been closed and the flight is currently grounded.
A young man called Josh Hartley, a self-professed gamer and “saviour of galaxies” starting live tweeting the drama from his smartphone while still in the skies above Manchester aboard the plane.
Hartley was enjoying a holiday in Dubai before the dramatic flight. He started posting images of the fighter escort before the news had even broken on TV.
Being escorted in pic.twitter.com/oXwxmhNsjo
— Josh Hartley (@JoshHartley_) August 5, 2014
Hartley’s confusion shows that none of the passengers were informed of the situation.
Landed duno what the fuck is happening. — Josh Hartley (@JoshHartley_) August 5, 2014
After landing, the citizen journalist posted pictures of police and fire services surrounding the plane.
Armed police outside the plane — Josh Hartley (@JoshHartley_) August 5, 2014
pic.twitter.com/AOGbTHE6Ts — Josh Hartley (@JoshHartley_) August 5, 2014
While the drama was still unfolding the BBC approached Hartley for an interview... before he had even left the plane.
@JoshHartley_ Hi Josh - Would you be available for an interview with BBC News? Pls follow @BBC_HaveYourSay and DM us. Thanks - Helen — BBC_HaveYourSay (@BBC_HaveYourSay) August 5, 2014
After taking a very brief call with the BBC in which he confirmed he was no longer on the plane Hartley posted a pic of the passengers being escorted away in a shuttle bus.
Another passenger, university student Matthew Cox, posted a picture appearing to show a passenger being led away by police, who soon confirmed they had made an arrest.
An hour after the incident, which saw the Manchester United players’ return from a successful tour in America diverted, Manchester Police said it was “business as usual” at the airport.
Qatar Airways released a statement which read: “We can confirm that flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester, an Airbus A330-300, landed safely at Manchester Airport ahead of its scheduled arrival time of 13:15. There were 269 passengers and 13 Qatar Airways crew on board. The crew had received a threat about a possible device on board and ‘#QatarAirways’ immediately took all the necessary precautions to alert British authorities.
"The crew is now fully assisting police at the airport with their inquiries. The safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is our top priority. As this is a matter of a police investigation, we cannot comment further at this time."
It wouldn't be a social media story without a selfie in there somewhere, and Hartley and Cox came together for an emotional picture after the plane had landed.
— Matthew Qox (@MattPeterC) August 5, 2014
Today's story is the latest example of how social media is changing the face of modern journalism, a theme explored by The Drum in its recent Hacks on Hacking film which looked at how Twitter shook up the 'trial of the century'.