RAF fighter jets are being scrambled on a regular basis as part of a Ryanair scheme to make passengers pay a £10 surcharge for not being killed.
The company said rising fuel costs along with higher taxes and increased landing fees had forced it to extort an extra tenner on pain of fiery death.
Bill McKay, a passenger on board a Ryanair flight from Stansted to an airport about 200 miles from Rome, said: “About 10 minutes after take off, the pilot and his crew appeared in the aisle wearing parachutes and told us that if we did not cough up ten quid each an RAF Typhoon jet would fire something called an AMRAAM missile at us.
“There was a burst of laughter, but then the atmosphere changed as you could see people thinking to themselves, ‘fuck me, this is Ryanair’.
“The pilot then told us to look out of the right hand side where we would see Flight Lieutenant Julian Cook from 3F Squadron at RAF Coningsby.
“Sure enough there he was, flying alongside. He waved at us very cheerfully and then dragged his finger across his throat. And then he waved again.”
Passenger Tom Logan added: “The pilot said that unless we handed over the money the plane would descend to 20,000 feet where he and his crew would all jump out. Flight Lieutenant Cook was there just in case any of us got the idea that we could land the plane ourselves while receiving frantic instructions from a sweaty man in a control tower.
“At that point I asked if they took Visa Electron. Which they did.”
A Ryanair spokesman said the new charge had been introduced after chief executive Michael O’Leary got bored during a film.
The spokesman added: “He still thinks we should destroy at least one plane load of passengers just to prove we’re not to be trifled with.”