Fighter jets sent to escort passenger plane bound for NYC
Move merely precautionary, NORAD says
Fighter jets were scrambled Sunday to escort American Airlines Flight 34, heading from Los Angeles to New York City’s JFK airport, after three passengers reportedly locked themselves in a bathroom and were "not compliant."
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) spokesman John Cornelio described the measure as precautionary, saying the jets intercepted the flight about 100 miles west of New York and shadowed it until it landed, the AP reports.
With New York City on edge because of the 9/11 anniversary, and recent al-Qaeda threats, NBC News reports:
The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement that it was "notified of passengers allegedly behaving suspiciously" onboard the flight at about 3 p.m., and that the jets were scrambled "out of an abundance of caution."
An official told the WSJ that a federal air marshal aboard the plane did not feel the situation was serious enough to identify himself and take action.
The airline says it didn't request the F-16s, while a military official told NBC that military jets were patrolling New York and Washington as a routine precaution for 9/11.
Tensions were raised in New York and Washington this week ahead of the 9/11 anniversary after federal officials received a credible but uncorroborated tip of a possible car bomb attack in either city.
The three passengers, it turns out, were merely drunk, and eventually returned to their seats. The plane then landed at JFK and was reportedly being met by law enforcement officials.
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.