Plane diverted because passenger ‘acted unusually’

Associated Press | Mar 30, 2010

CHANTILLY, Va. — No one has been charged after an American Eagle flight from Chicago to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was diverted to Dulles International Airport because of a report of a suspicious passenger, officials said Tuesday.

American Eagle spokesman Tim Smith said Flight 4117 landed safely with 45 passengers aboard around 11:50 p.m. Monday.

Greg Soule, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman, said the agency was notified of “a passenger acting unusually” and then rerouted the flight to Dulles, a sprawling airport about 26 miles from the nation’s capital. Reagan is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., not far from the Pentagon and the offices of several government contractors in Arlington, Va.

Smith said someone on the ground contacted the airline about concerns on the plane. He described that person as “someone who had some level of knowledge of the situation” but was not a crew member.

He said the airline then alerted authorities and the crew, which investigated and concluded the plane could continue to Reagan because it was not a high level of concern. But just before arriving, the TSA told the crew to land at Dulles, Smith said.

TSA and law enforcement officials interviewed and cleared all the passengers, Soule said. No hazardous materials were found on the plane.

Rob Yingling of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said airport police and other agencies investigated, but nobody was charged.

Smith said most passengers left the airport on their own, while others were offered transportation. The aircraft was inspected and sent back to Chicago empty. Some passengers who were scheduled for a 6 a.m. flight Tuesday on the plane from Reagan were put on other flights, Smith said.

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