Last night, passengers on a Jet Blue flight from John F. Kennedy International in Queens, New York bound for Los Angeles got quite the scare when the FBI descended on their plane believing that the plane may have been hijacked.
According to an ABC News report, an error with a radio signaled the tower that flight 1623, an Airbus 320, had been hijacked on Tuesday evening around 8 p.m. right before the plane took off. The error prompted a massive police response, and it took about 15 minutes for the crew to make contact and let the tower know everything on the flight was normal. However, at that point, it was too late to recall the breach proceedings.
At one point, according to the New York Daily News, the pilot even held up a piece of paper to the window with his cell phone number on it, so that police could contact him to discuss what happened.
In a statement, the Port Authority said, “There was a false alarm sent to tower as a result of a radio communications failure. Aircraft was inspected and cleared with no security threat.”
Even so, the 160 passengers on flight 1623 felt extreme panic during the situation, and they sat with their hands in the air throughout the entire ordeal as armed FBI agents and Port Authority agents thoroughly inspected the flight to ensure no hijacking occurred.
On Tuesday, Jet Blue released a statement that said authorities carried out the breach protocols out of extreme caution. The airline said, “While communication was reestablished via alternate channels, authorities responded in an abundance of caution. The aircraft was cleared and returned to the gate for inspection.”
Right now, The Federal Aviation Administration works to figure out what caused the error because so far nobody knows for sure what happened to cause the issue.
Footage from inside the plane showed passengers with their hands up as armed officials assessed the situation. Later, once everybody was actually safe, passengers took to social media to discuss the terrifying situation.
One passenger tweeted writing, “Woah. My worst nightmare. I honestly thought we were going to die. I AM ALIVE THANK GOSH I MEDITATE.” Another described the entire ordeal as “traumatizing.”
While the situation aboard the plane had to be incredibly nervewracking for the passengers and the crew, it might be some comfort to see that the plan in place for potential problems appears to work in the event that something unthinkable ever happened.