Passengers on board a flight from Paris to Bilbao were so frightened for their lives during a 'terrorist scare' that many phoned home in tears to 'say goodbye'.
The drama at Charles de Gaulle airport is said to have happened just before the plane was due to take off for Spain last night.
Panic broke out when the crew were unable to find a 'citizen of Arab origin' who had apparently checked in.
There was also concern over the appearance of a bag on the plane which no-one claimed ownership of.
The plane was being operated by Hop, a subsidiary of Air France.
Air France has failed to confirm the emergency but Spanish newspaper El Correo says around 100 passengers were involved in dramatic scenes amid people phoning loved ones.
The plane should have taken off at 9pm but was aborted because of the scare over the missing passenger who had apparently been with a woman, also of Arabic origin. She was dressed in a long robe with her head covered by a scarf and boarded the plane but without the man.
The newspaper says terrified passengers were held on board for more than three hours whilst police searched the cabin. They were told there had been a 'security breach'.
The woman was interviewed but said very little because she couldn't speak Spanish or French.
However, she did indicate that the suitcase did not belong to her and she didn't know the Arabic man who had been seen earlier.
One passenger told El Correo: 'It was awful. It's true that people were calling home saying they were experiencing something very dramatic and they didn't know what was going to happen.'
After the flight was grounded, the distraught passengers were taken to hotels in Paris for an overnight stay and were flown out this morning to Bilbao.
The scare was also reported by Radio Bilbao. A daughter of one of the passengers said her mother had 'called her crying, almost as though she was saying goodbye.'
Security forces are said to have detained and interviewed a suspect but this has not been confirmed.
By Rita Sobot
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.