TORONTO (AP) — Two U.S. F16 fighter jets escorted a Panama-City bound plane back to Toronto on Friday after a passenger threatened the aircraft.
Flight 772 turned around over West Virginia about 45 minutes after its 7 a.m. (1100 GMT) departure from Toronto Pearson International Airport, said Sunwing Airlines spokeswoman Janine Chapman. She said an “agitated passenger directly threatened the aircraft” but did not elaborate on the threat.
NORAD Captain Jennifer Stadnyk said the two fighter jets from Ohio flew with the plane out of U.S. airspace as a “precaution.”
Toronto police said Ali Shahi, 25, has been charged with uttering threats and endangering the safety of an aircraft. Police Const. Lilly Fitzpatrick said he’s Canadian.
Chapman said the flight, carrying 183 passengers and six crew, landed safely and no one was injured.
Chapman said the flight will depart again for Panama on Friday afternoon.
Sharon Ramsay was on the flight, headed for a vacation with her two children. It was the first time they had been on a plane. Ramsay said she was crying while the arrest was taking place.
“It was extremely scary,” she said when the police stormed into the plane yelling “heads down hands up.”
“The kids were scared, I was scared.”
The plane was over West Virginia when it turned around.
There were 181 people, two infants, two pilots and four flight attendants on board.
Most passengers left on another flight for Panama City later on Friday.