3 Passengers on San Diego Flight Detained After “Suspicious Behavior”

by on September 11, 2011 · 11 comments

in San Diego

According to very recent media reports, three passengers who exhibited “suspicious behavior” were taken into custody on a flight from Denver to Detroit that originated in San Diego.  Flight 623 of Frontier Airlines was followed by F-16 jet fighters that had been scrambled after its crew reported that several people on board were “spending an extraordinarily long time in the lavatory.”

The three were led off the airliner in handcuffs but were later released with no charges.

Here are the sources (I’ve added a couple of the links but two)

The Denver Post  reported that the airliner:

“was followed by F-16 fighters and then met by police and bomb-sniffing dogs this afternoon after two people stayed too long in an airplane lavatory.

Nothing was found, but three people were taken into custody for questioning and, eventually, the other 113 passengers aboard Frontier Flight 623 were able to collect their carry-on bags during a day of high anxiety over the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

None of the three had been arrested, according to TSA.

The flight from Denver International Airport to Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was directed to a remote part of the airfield to be evacuated and searched by dogs for explosives, authorities said.

“These cops come in SWAT gear and machine guns, and they made us put our hands on the head rest in front (of each passenger) and they went through and arrested three different people,” passenger Tim Taggart of Denver told 9News.

Frontier issued a written statement saying the two people were “spending an extraordinarily long time in the lavatory,” and referred all other questions to law enforcement agencies.

Spokespeople for the airport and the Transportation Security Administration did not say how long was too long.

TSA issued a statement that the reaction the incident was “out of an abundance of caution.”

The people detained have not been named, and it is not clear whether they boarded in Denver or in San Diego, where the flight originated this morning.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, had scrambled two F-16 jets to shadow the flight until it landed.

NORAD spokesman John Cornelio said that for “operational security reasons” he could not say where the F-16s were scrambled or how many were on duty Sunday.


Three passengers detained in Detroit after flight from Denver

DETROIT | Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:45pm EDT

(Reuters) – Three passengers aboard a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Detroit were taken off the airplane and interviewed by federal law enforcement officers when the jet landed on Sunday after fellow passengers reported suspicious behavior.

Peter Kowalchuk, a spokesman for the airline, said the passengers “were observed behaving suspiciously” on Frontier flight 623, which originated in San Diego.

The FBI, Transportation Security Administration and local police were notified and when the Airbus A318 landed in Detroit at about 3:30 local time, it was sent to a holding pad some distance from the concourse where the luggage of the 118 passengers aboard it was removed and sniffed by police dogs.

Sandra Berchtold, a spokesswoman for the FBI in Detroit, said the three passengers were being interviewed and were not under arrest.

(Writing by James B. Kelleher; Editing by David Bailey)

 Seattle Times:

Frontier Flight 623, with 116 passengers on board, landed without incident in Detroit after the crew reported that two people were spending “an extraordinarily long time” in a bathroom, Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuck said.

Flight 623 originated in San Diego before stopping at Denver International Airport on its way to Detroit. The FBI said that the North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled F-16 fighter jets to shadow the plane “out of an abundance of caution.”


AP/ msnbc

— A similar scenario played out on a plane headed to Detroit from Denver. Police detained three passengers at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport after the crew of the Frontier Airlines flight reported suspicious activity on board and NORAD sent two F-16 jets to shadow the flight until it landed safely, the airline and federal officials said. The crew of Frontier Flight 623 reported that two people were spending “an extraordinarily long time” in a bathroom, Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuck said. Again, the FBI said the jets shadowed the plane “out of an abundance of caution.” The three passengers who were taken off the plane in handcuffs were released Sunday night, and no charges were filed against them, airport spokesman Scott Wintner said.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

John G September 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm
obecean September 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Wow. Joining the ‘mile high club’ just got a lot more consequential.


Shane Finneran September 12, 2011 at 8:10 am

Two people spend a long time in an airplane bathroom together, and then they’re accused of terrorism? Only in America.


John G September 12, 2011 at 5:58 am

At least they did not start waterboarding them. For the sake of an overabundance of caution, and to prevent any profiling based on clothing, my suggestion is to have everyone issued bathrobes and rubber flips at the airline check in desk, like a spa. That would prevent this sort of thing where they have to use the lavs to get access as they would already be naked.


OB Ragger September 12, 2011 at 6:30 am

Should have been escorted to the back of the plane and helped out the door..at 28000 feet. Thin the herd.


bodysurferbob September 12, 2011 at 10:58 am

probably snorting coke, heh heh …


john g September 12, 2011 at 11:06 am

(This reminds of Harold and Kumar video.)
And of course this one also.


john g September 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm
doug porter September 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

here’s a first person account from one of the “suspects” on this flight. http://goo.gl/CeZh0 Y’all might want to think about this before jumping to any conclusions…


john g September 13, 2011 at 10:15 am

In addition to the bathrobes I forgot about the need for masks, a vow of silence and no exposed skin. According to the first person account this all took place without any explanation. OK, clearly the news release stories are very different. Are any other passenger/witnesses reporting on what really happened? At some point you would think air travellers, including all those terrorists, will discover the fun and relative ease of civil disobedience. At least a good Fred Sanford heart attack or two and some scanner sit down/drag outs. People also need to get over the ridiculous phobia about dying in an airplane. Cars and cruise boat casinos are much more terrifying I think.


john g September 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

google on Shoshana Hebshi to get more from this new celeb.


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