Two military jets escorted an Alaska Airlines flight into Seattle and authorities took a passenger off the plane, after a caller told the FBI that a possible hijacker was aboard.
Officials say FBI agents were waiting Thursday night to interview the passenger mentioned as a possible threat after the Oregon Air National Guard F-15 jets delivered the aircraft.
FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu says a caller told his office on Thursday afternoon that a man aboard Alaska Flight 819 from Kona to Seattle was a possible hijacker.
Alaska Airlines spokesman Paul McElroy says law enforcement boarded the jet through rear stairs when it landed about 7 p.m. in Seattle and took the unidentified man off the plane. McElroy says the flight was uneventful.
Seattle FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich said the man was cooperative and was being interviewed. She said there doesn’t appear to be any imminent public safety threat.
Simon declined to release any details about the caller who said the man was a threat.
A passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight bound to Seattle looked out the window and saw what appeared to be a damaged area on the wing with a handwritten note saying, “We know about this.”
The incident July 28 drew comments on Twitter and other social media websites, but the Seattle-based airline says there was nothing to worry about.
Spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said Tuesday that it was an approved trim repair to the corner flap on the right wing. A maintenance technician wrote to let the flight crew know.
Egan says, “The message was the result of someone’s good intentions” but the wing note “was not appropriate and did not follow company procedures.”
The message was immediately removed, and Alaska apologizes for any alarm it may have caused.
A longtime Oregon concert promoter sparked an online backlash against Alaska Airlines with a Facebook post describing what he called “the worst of humanity.”
Cameron Clark of Bend wrote to his Facebook friends Friday that he saw a disabled man miss a flight because numerous airline personnel refused to give him extra assistance, even after Clark intervened and asked employees to help. Clark said the man told him he has late-stage Parkinson’s disease.
KTVZ reports Clark’s story spread quickly and sparked a series of angry Facebook posts directed at the airline.
The airline sees the incident differently and says employees did their best to accommodate the passenger. Officials posted on Facebook that the man’s ticket was refunded, and he boarded a new flight Saturday morning. A spokesman said the man never said he was disabled and airline employees, smelling alcohol, believed he was intoxicated.
In his Facebook post, Clark said the man appeared to be in his 70s and told him that he missed a limited window of time he had to meet his daughter in Bellingham, Wash.
Clark wrote: “what happened to our collective sense of decency, of compassion, of our disposition to help those in need of extra help. alaska airlines. you broke a man’s heart today. you maintained your policy, and ignored an opportunity to do the right thing. you broke my heart too.”
Clark told KTVZ in a written statement that he never intended for his post to become viral, but the many people who responded to the story and put pressure on Alaska Airlines to “show that the best of humanity is alive and well. that light exists. that accountability is possible.”
The man never told airline employees that he had Parkinson’s disease or any other disability, spokesman Paul McElroy told The Associated Press on Saturday. Officials believed he was intoxicated because they smelled alcohol.
“We are prohibited from asking customers if they have a disability, and the customer never told us that he had Parkinson’s, or any disability for that matter,” McElroy said. “He did appear disoriented to us, and later, when we smelled alcohol, we were led to the conclusion he was intoxicated.”
“We don’t know whether this customer has Parkinson’s or not,” McElroy added.
McElroy said the passenger has not complained to the airline.