ORLANDO, Fla. – A prank that sources say was made by a 10-year-old aboard an Orlando flight created some tense moments and a very long day for passengers.
The potential threat, the exact details of which have not been released, was made Sunday evening on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle as it approached Orlando, officials said.
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“We’re taxiing in and all of a sudden the plane gets interrupted with a peculiar notice that we’re going to park on an active runway for a moment,” said a passenger who was on the flight with his family of eight, including two grandchildren. “After that, they said there was a threat to the plane and that we are not going to be approaching any terminal for any time soon.”
Passengers said police with submachine guns surrounded the plane.
“That kind of raised the level of tension,” the man said, who added that officers then boarded the aircraft and had a “pow wow” with the crew.
He said passengers were told there was “a threat to the aircraft,” but were not provided a lot of details.
“We were looking (up and down the plane) for the perps, but we’re not seeing any,” he said, adding that they were on the runway for over an hour. “Our concern was that it was a bomb threat because they kept us far from any terminals.”
The man said a family was then escorted off the plane.
“We’re just glad it’s a prank. It was very strange.”
A passenger who was seated in front of the family that was removed from the plane said others were hoping they would be arrested for causing the issue.
“As soon as (the family) got up, it was, like, the saddest thing. The mood just switched because the mom was crying and was, like, ‘I’m so sorry everybody. I’m so sorry,’” Ryan Pruitt said.
Pruitt, of Anchorage and visiting Disney World, said the captain had said over the intercom that someone Airdropped a threat to another passenger, causing the scare.
“The cops took it very seriously,” Pruitt added.
A woman aboard the flight said the crew and police handled everything professionally.
“It just made for a very long day,” Jill Reed said. “I felt really bad for the mom who was apologizing to everybody.”
As of Sunday night, no arrests had been made, according to federal sources.
Alaska Airlines released the following statement regarding the incident:
“After Alaska Airlines flight 16 from Seattle landed in Orlando, it parked remotely because of a potential threat that was later deemed non-credible. Police boarded and cleared the aircraft. The plane continued to its gate and passengers deplaned as normal. We take safety seriously and we apologize for the inconvenience for our guests.”