A Caribbean holiday flight was delayed for more than three hours at Gatwick as 25 'drunken Irish' passengers were kicked off the plane.
The Thomson Airways Dreamliner to Costa Rica yesterday was ready to take off when a large group of people are said to have become abusive to staff.
Police boarded the flight as the plane remained at the departure gate after the pilot 'refused to fly' until the problem passengers - including a 14-year-old boy - were removed.
Holidaymaker Sally Ferguson, 50, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, described the scene on board as 'a fiasco'.
Speaking via text messages to a relative, the livery yard manager said: 'What a fiasco! We are on board and still on the ground.
'25 people have just been taken off the plane because they are drunk and abusive. The police are here taking bags out of the hold. It's going to take forever.
'They are Irish. The captain said he has never see anything like it in 20 years.'
The problem passengers' luggage was taken from the hold while the police officers took the group back to the airport where they 'dispersed'.
As a result, flight TOM038 to Liberia, Costa Rica which was scheduled to take off at 9.15am did not leave the North terminal until 12.37pm.
It is understood the flight was initially delayed by technical issues before a further hold up was caused by the drunken passengers.
Sussex police confirmed they were called to the airport after the pilot refused to fly with the 'disorderly' group.
A spokesman said: 'At 11.35am on Monday police were called to an outbound Thomson flight due to leave Gatwick North Terminal for Costa Rica after the captain refused to fly with a group of 25 male passengers, all adults except for one 14-year old boy, some of whom had been disorderly on the aircraft.
'Officers escorted them from the aircraft to landside where they dispersed.
'There was no violence as the officers escorted them away, and no evidence of criminal offences on the aircraft or in the airport.'
A Thomson spokesman: 'Thomson Airways would like to apologise for any inconvenience experienced by customers on board flight TOM038 from London Gatwick Airport to Costa Rica, which was unfortunately delayed due to an operational issue and a customer incident on board.
'We operate a zero tolerance policy in relation to any disruptive behaviour and several customers were asked to leave the aircraft. We worked as quickly as possible to ensure the other customers could get away on their holiday.
'Customer and crew safety is our priority at all times and we would like to reassure everyone that incidents of this nature are extremely rare.'