Forbes : Threat Forces Plane to Return to Seattle

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Threat Forces Plane to Return to Seattle

Associated Press | July 25, 2007

SEATTLE - A man who had missed his flight said there was a bomb aboard the plane Wednesday, forcing it to return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport even though authorities did not believe the threat was legitimate, an airport spokeswoman said.

"The plane was brought back, erring on the side of caution, after he made that threatening statement," Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Jennifer Peppin said.

Airport police were questioning a man who told a gate agent there was a bomb on Northwest Airlines Flight 980 shortly after the plane left Seattle for Memphis around 12:33 p.m., airport spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt said.

"After interviewing him, they said they do not believe it was a credible bomb threat," Betancourt said.

The man was never on the plane and had no luggage on the aircraft, Betancourt said. She said the man's motive was unclear, but "it was clear he wanted the plane to come back."

The plane, which had 142 passengers, returned to the airport around 1:15 or 1:20 p.m., Betancourt said. About a half-hour later the plane remained on the tarmac, its passengers and crew still inside.

Police were interviewing the pilots, trying to determine how extensive a security sweep they needed to make before allowing the plane to fly to Memphis.

Northwest spokesman Roman Blahoski said in a statement the airline "apologizes to its customers for the inconvenience and expects flight 980 to depart Seattle as soon as possible."

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed