January 6, 2010 / 11:46 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. fighter jets scrambled due to unruly passenger

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - An unruly passenger aboard a Hawaii-bound airliner on Wednesday prompted the pilot to return the plane to Portland, Oregon, escorted by two military fighter jets, in the latest of several U.S. aviation security scares this week.

The Hawaiian Airlines jet en route to Maui’s Kahului Airport turned back because of “a suspicious passenger who made threatening remarks and refused to store his carry-on bag,” said Suzanne Trevino, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

The plane, escorted by two F-15 fighters scrambled out of Portland International Airport, landed there without further incident, and the man, who was not identified, was detained for questioning, authorities said.

The incident followed a spate of security alerts this week at airports in Bakersfield, California; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; and Newark, New Jersey, as jitters gripped the U.S. travel industry in the aftermath of a foiled airline bombing attempt on Christmas Day.

“I think this stuff happens every day, and now you’re just noticing,” Trevino said.

Reporting by Steve Gorman, Dan Whitcomb and Teresa Carson, Editing by Eric Walsh

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