WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. military jets were scrambled to escort two passengers flights because of security scares on Sunday as Americans marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Two F-16 fighter jets escorted an American Airlines flight to a safe landing in New York after a report of suspicious activity on the flight from Los Angeles.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it was notified of passengers allegedly behaving suspiciously on American Airlines Flight 34 from Los Angeles International Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“Out of an abundance of caution, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) scrambled two F-16 jets to shadow the flight until it landed safely at JFK,” the agency said in a statement.
The Boeing 767-200, on a flight from Los Angeles, landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy and the passengers disembarked without incident, the airline said.
A spokeswoman for American said the crew did not perceive a threat.
“Our captain and flight attendants did not see that there was any security issue,” Andrea Huguely told Reuters, adding that the crew and airline did not ask for assistance.
Another American Airlines spokesman confirmed that the incident began with “suspicious behavior” observed in the area of the jetliner’s lavatory.
In another incident, F-16 jets were called into action to shadow a Frontier Airlines flight to Detroit Metro Airport after the TSA was notified of passengers allegedly behaving suspiciously, the agency said.
“Law enforcement met the flight, which was brought to a remote area of the airport,” The TSA said. “The plane was swept with negative findings and cleared.”
Frontier Airlines Flight 623 from Denver landed safely in Detroit. An airline spokesman said two passengers had been seen to be spending “an extraordinarily long time in the lavatory” and three passengers were taken into custody.
Sandra Berchtold, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Detroit, said the three passengers were being interviewed and were not under arrest.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed 10 years ago Sunday when hijacked commercial airliners were crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and a field in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Additional reporting by Clare Baldwin in New York, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, and Kyle Peterson and James B. Kelleher in Chicago; Editing by David Bailey