TSA: FEARS ABOUT PASSENGER TAKEN OFF PLANE UNFOUNDED
The Transportation Security Administration said that a passenger taken off an international flight in an emergency stop on Thursday, because of a crew member’s suspicions, had done nothing wrong and had posed no security threat.
The American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to London was diverted to New York early Thursday after a crew member became suspicious of the passenger, an airline spokeswoman said.
The crew member questioned the man, whom she believed she had seen bypassing security by riding on an employee-only shuttle bus from the parking lot to the LAX airport employee entrance, according to spokeswoman Sonja Whitemon.
“The passenger became cause for concern,” American Airlines spokesman Ned Raynolds told CNN. “The pilot and crew made a decision to divert to JFK.”
The plane, carrying 218 passengers and 14 crew members, landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport at about 2:45 a.m. ET.
Anthony Loynes, one of the 188 passengers aboard the flight, told CNN the pilot told passengers the plane was stopping at JFK because the plane did not have enough fuel to make it to London.
Shortly after landing, Loynes said, security officials boarded the plane and left with a man of “Middle Eastern descent.” A woman sitting next to the man was also questioned, he added.
Everyone was subsequently taken off the plane and the cabin was scheduled to undergo a security sweep, the airlines spokeswoman said.
The passenger was detained and was interviewed by FBI agents Thursday morning, FBI officials in New York and Washington told CNN. The TSA later found the passenger had gone through proper security procedures.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller in Los Angeles said the man is a U.S. citizen, born in the United States.
According to Russ Knocke, with the Department of Homeland Security, American Airlines security officials identified the man as an executive platinum traveler with the airline who purchased his round-trip ticket on April 19.