2 planes investigated at JFK Airport

September 18, 2012 3:34:22 AM PDT
Authorities isolated two passenger planes at JFK Airport for an investigation after a telephone threat to the Port Authority, officials said.

An American Airlines flight and a Fin Air jet were given the all-clear after an investigation that lasted more than an hour.

Officials said AA 24 was a Boeing 767 out of San Francisco. The plane landed at 3:14 p.m. at JFK Airport. Federal air marshals were on board that flight.

The Finnair flight originated out of Helsinki. That flight was cleared around 4:30 p.m. The American plane was cleared a short time later.

A Port Authority official tells ABC News that the caller two terrorists with explosives had secreted themselves in the wheel wells of the planes.

The planes taxied to a secure area out of an abundance of caution, officials said.

The FBI and Port Authority Police conducted interviews with crew members.

The technique of hiding in wheel housings, which has been used in the past by stowaways, usually results in death due to lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures.

No explosives and no terrorists were found in the wheel wells or on the planes, officials said.

"The pilot came on, and he told us basically that he had no information but that we were being held due to a possible phone in threat," said Brian Teitelbaum, an American Airlines passenger.

"Everyone kept calm and it was good," said Lee Geale, an American Airlines passenger.

While passengers praised the pilots and crew for keeping the calm, there was a tense exchange between the American Airlines pilot and control tower as the pilot demanded to know what was going on:

American 24 Pilot: How come we're sitting out here?
JFK Tower: Yeah I was instructed by the tower supervisor to hold you in that position and they're talking on the phone. I'll call you as soon as I have some information.

American 24 Pilot: Could you let us know what's going on over here?
JFK Tower: I still don't have any information. American 24 Pilot: OK we're going to need that supervisor's name who gave you those instructions when you have a chance.

JFK Tower: and they're still on the telephone.
American 24 Pilot: Yeah well they need to get off the phone and give me some information now. OK. I'm the captain of this airliner and I need information pronto.

JFK Tower: American 24 can you contact your company, do they have any information for you?
American 24 Pilot: Negative they're not answering. What do you have? JFK Tower: I don't have a thing at this moment except that you and the aircraft beside you need to wait in that area.
American 24 Pilot: OK. We're surrounded by emergency vehicles, there's a reason for this. Somebody's got to give us the reason or we're going to evacuate the aircraft. You got 60 seconds.

JFK Tower: We have the information, can you possibly call ***-***-****.
American 24 Pilot: Negative, I demand the information right now over a frequency.

In the end it turned out to be a hoax and a two hour delay.

"There was a little bit of nerves around in the plane, but the flight attendants and everything just kept it quiet," said Ben Rosamond, an American Airlines passenger.

Weary travelers in Finnair were eager to put all this and their jet lag behind them.

"Just waiting to get to the hotel to get some sleep," said Mette Ilander, a Finnair passenger.

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