AP Source: Man arrested in airplane bomb threat, Michigan airport temporarily closed

Friday, January 15, 2010

AP Source: Man arrested in airplane bomb threat

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A passenger on board a small commercial plane was arrested Friday after making a bomb threat as the plane neared a northern Michigan airport, a government official said.

No bomb was found, and the man was taken off the plane after it landed safely at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Transportation Security Administration said the passenger had entered the bathroom of the United Airlines Flight 6036 from Chicago as it approached the Michigan airport Friday morning. The passenger was questioned after the flight landed, and the airport suspended operations for about 30 minutes, the TSA said.

Passenger David Boyer, 47, a Chicago attorney who has a home near Traverse City, said he was seated seven rows behind the man, who got up and went to the bathroom, stayed about five minutes and then sat back down. Boyer said there was no disturbance, no reason to believe anything was wrong until the plane landed.

Police came onto the plane and detained the man, who he estimated to be in his late 30s, and they took him off the plane. He was cooperative and didn’t put up a struggle. The passengers were then taken to the airport fire department building where they were questioned by authorities, he said.

“Everything’s fine. It’s just a hair-trigger misunderstanding as far as I’m concerned. It’s a non-event. It was a completely routine flight,” he said as he was walking toward the terminal from the parking lot.

The incident comes as airlines and airports have boosted security in the wake of the failed attack on a packed Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas. A Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to blow up the plane using a chemical-laden device.

Friday’s United Airlines flight was operated by St. George, Utah-based SkyWest Inc., the holding company for SkyWest Airlines. The medium-sized, twin-engine Bombardier CRJ-200 passenger plane had 11 passengers and three crew members on board, said Marissa Snow, a SkyWest spokesman.

United Airlines spokeswoman Sarah Massier said there was a “disruptive passenger” on the flight that departed from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. She said the flight crew requested that law enforcement officials meet the flight once it landed but would not provide more details.


Associated Press Writers Joan Lowy in Washington and Michael Tarm in Chicago contributed to this report.

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