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American Eagle Passengers Saw Something, Said Something

Passenger was briefly detained and released after authorities found no threats
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2021 2:36 PM CDT
Man Reaches for Luggage, Other Passengers Raise Alarm
File photo of an American Eagle flight   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

(Newser) – People are on edge. Flying is still safe and we’re not trying to scare you. But there’s no getting around that there’s been a massive uptick in the number of unruly passenger incidents. Way back in August the FAA released a public service announcement asking people to please not freak out and distract the pilot. The agency also pleaded with airlines and airports to cut back on the booze. It’s not overstating things to say that air rage is something people are noticing. The FAA’s graph of unruly passenger incidents shows a climb starting in 2020 that’s steeper than a jet’s takeoff path. All this to say, when passengers reported a man on a flight from Indiana to New York for suspicious behavior, authorities took it seriously.

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Flight 4817 on American Airlines’ regional American Eagle brand arrived at La Guardia and the plane didn’t even taxi to the gate, CNN reports. The plane stayed away from the terminal, and passengers were evacuated on the tarmac. Police and emergency crews were at the ready. Laura Bergdoll of Indianapolis was on the flight and said flight attendants “started yelling ‘Evacuate! Evacuate!’ as soon as the plane landed. Eventually, New York Port Authority police interviewed the man deemed suspicious by his neighbors, and the passengers around him, determining that he had reached for his luggage which scared his neighbors. NY Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted that there was no reason to believe New Yorkers were in danger, and that appears to be true. A Port Authority spokesperson told Newsweek that the “passenger who was detained did not make any verbal threats and was not observed holding a suspicious item. He was released after being detained briefly. (Read more unruly passenger stories.)

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