On Monday, a telephone threat on two aircraft landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport forced authorities to search the planes upon their arrival. Officials said the American Airlines and Finnair flights were taken to an isolated area of the airport, surrounded by emergency vehicles and searched for explosives.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesperson Ron Marsico said that a threatening phone call suggested there could be explosives on the planes. The aircraft were isolated and searched, and the passengers were also interviewed and the pilots said nothing out of the ordinary had happened during their flights. Nothing was found, and the planes were given the all clear.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also confirmed that both planes were given the all-clear. The agency said they were allowed to leave the isolated area and approach the gate. The search was conducted out of an abundance of caution following the threatening call, it added.
However, not everything was fine and dandy during authorities’ search for the alleged explosives. There was an intense conversation between the American Airlines pilot and the control tower. The pilot became angry when he was led to an isolated area, emergency vehicles surrounded his plane and no-one could tell him what was going on.
The American Airlines pilot can be heard in a recording of the conversation saying that “they” needed to get off the phone and give him some information pronto. He said that he was the captain of the aircraft and he needed to know what was going on. When the control tower insisted that the plane needed to wait where it was parked before the passengers disembarked, the pilot lost his temper a little. He said that there was a reason for them to be surrounded by emergency vehicles, and somebody needed to give him the reason or they would evacuate the plane.
The pilot threaten to carry out the evacuation in 60 seconds if he didn’t get any answers. Then the control tower asked if he could make a phone call to get the information and gave him a number to call. However, he demanded that the information be given to him over the frequency. Authorities subsequently told him what they knew.
Many people think that the pilot did the right thing by insisting that authorities give him a reason as to why his aircraft was being isolated and emergency vehicles were surrounding it. As the ‘captain of the ship’ so to speak, he’s entitled to know what’s going on with his ‘vessel’ at all times.
It would have also helped the situation on board with passengers, as there was nothing the pilot or flight attendants could tell them. Some people are certain to have panicked. American Airlines passenger Ben Rosamond said there were some shaken people on the plane, but the flight attendants kept what was going on quiet.
While passengers on both aircraft said they didn’t know about the bomb threat until after getting off the planes over an hour later, one passenger said different. Brian Teitelbaum, another American Airlines passenger, told reporters that the pilot announced over the intercom that he didn’t have any information about what was going on – only that they were being held because of a possible phone-in threat. This announcement was probably made after the pilot was given the reason for the fuss.