An air marshal on board spotted something suspicious, triggering the urgent response.
Passengers said they had no idea that what was considered a suspicious device, described as what appeared to be wires sticking out of drinking straws, was found in the lavatory. But the Transportation Security Administration says the wild ending to the Delta Airlines flight was all about nothing.
Flight 126 left John F. Kennedy International Airport around 8 p.m., but a little more than 90 minutes later, it was back at the gate, where hundreds of passengers were evacuated as bomb experts scoured the jet.
"We landed, and there a million security trucks, emergency trucks and fire trucks," passenger Dayna Kurtz said. "People got a little worried then, that was a little freaky. You know, guys in HAZMAT suits and stuff surrounding the plane. It was pretty intense."
The passengers were loaded onto buses and moved to a remote part of the airport.
Meanwhile, the FBI and TSA questioned two people about the mysterious wires found in the rear bathroom.
One of them was a woman who made the pilot suspicious with her claim of being ill. A transmission between the pilot and air traffic control was released.
PILOT: Yes sir. We have a lady that is on oxygen who the flight attendants want paramedics for but we think she's the one that is supposed to be the decoy that keeps looking at the gentleman that was playing with the possible explosive device in the lavatory. So if she gets off the aircraft by a medic she has to be escorted by police also. But we're going to want paramedics to take her off.
ATC: Roger. If I understand you you want her off at this time? Is that correct?
PILOT: That would be correct.
ATC: Stand by one.
In the end, there was no device. The two people being questioned were cleared, and the flight took off again for Spain.
Delta spokeswoman Sarah Lora released the following statement on behalf of the airline:
"Out of an abundance of caution, Flight 126 JFK to Madrid with 206 passengers returned to JFK approximately an hour after departure due to security concerns. The flight landed safely and was met by local law enforcement."
Investigators still haven't been able to explain what the device was or how it got there, only that they are sure it was not a bomb.
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