A man was removed from an Alaska Airlines jet in Anchorage late Thursday after he made threats during a flight from Seattle, airport police say.
The man, who hasn’t yet been identified, was a first-class passenger on Flight 755, according to Police and Fire Chief Jesse Davis at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Police were called to meet the aircraft as it was taxiing to a terminal shortly after 11:30 p.m., when air traffic controllers relayed a report from the flight crew that “they possibly had an armed passenger on the plane.”
Davis said four officers “immediately” boarded the aircraft. The man was taken into custody without incident.
“We also had checked the plane and interviewed witnesses, and it appears that there was no weapon,” Davis said. “He had just made a statement that he would shoot other passengers or blow up the plane.”
Passenger Ron Klein, who was traveling with his son in first class, said the man was in the first row, two rows ahead of them. Klein didn’t notice any unusual behavior during the flight but said the man “looked kinda eager to get off the plane” as it arrived at the gate.
After a brief delay opening the plane’s door, Klein said, officers stepped onto the plane with their guns drawn and ordered the man to come with them.
“The guy, he was just kinda, ‘What, what’s going on — what the heck?’ ” Klein said. “They pulled him off and then pulled him in (to the jetway), and then that was the last I saw of him.”
Davis said Klein’s account of the incident was consistent with police procedures for responding to reports of armed passengers. He emphasized that the boarding was safely conducted.
“At no time were the passengers in any danger,” Davis said. “The fact that the passenger was seated up front made it easier for us to intervene.”
The man wasn’t immediately arrested, Davis said, as police consulted with the FBI on whether to charge him with state or federal offenses.
Davis said the man showed signs of intoxication, but airline spokeswoman Halley Knigge didn’t have word on whether the man had been drinking during the flight. She said deplaning continued after the incident.
“It looks like they were asked to stay in their seats until he was restrained,” Knigge said. “Once he was taken into police custody, they were able to exit.”
Airport police spoke with passengers from the plane’s first two rows, Klein said. He and the other passengers were briefly kept at the gate but allowed to leave about 15 minutes later.
“Flight crew did a great job, police did a great job; passengers seemed to take it all in stride,” Klein said.
Klein flies about 90,000 miles each year, but Thursday’s encounter was a first for him.
“I’ve seen people taken off planes, but never taken off at gunpoint,” Klein said.