Two military aircraft escorted a New York-bound American Airlines flight from Los Angeles after three passengers locked themselves in the bathroom, officials said Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. A law enforcement official said it wasn't thought to be terrorism.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled two F-16 jets to shadow Flight 34 until it landed safely at New York's Kennedy Airport shortly after 4 p.m., the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement.
A NORAD spokesman said passengers locked themselves in the bathroom and were still inside when the plane landed. The FBI was responding to the airport. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
A law enforcement official says it isn't thought to be terrorism. A NORAD spokesman confirmed the military aircraft intercepted the flight about 100 miles west of New York and shadow it until it landed.
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."
NBC News New York has reportedly spoke with several sources that say two to three passengers were drunk and refused to follow flight attendant instructions, making long and frequent visits to the lavatories.
A spokesman for American Airlines told the New York Post that incognito air marshals were on board, but never had to reveal their identity. Sources told the Post that "a passenger freaked out over another flyer’s frequent bathroom trips," causing the scare.
Sources told CBS News that the three passengers were "disruptive, moving in and out of lavatories, even at one point locking themselves inside."
“In our eyes, it’s a big nothing,” American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith told CBS.