Police say the phoned-in hijacking threat that grounded American Airlines Flight 24, which was headed to JFK Airport, at San Francisco International Airport was "non-credible." The SF Chronicle says the call was made to an Almeda hotel clerk. The passengers on the flight were taken off the plane, questioned by authorities, had their belongings re-screened, and were allowed to book other flights. But one passenger wondered if two fellow travelers were racially profiled.
Apparently one couple were led from the plane in handcuffs (they were released later). Michael Anderson, a 20-year-old Yale student, told the AP that he "saw the couple at the American Airlines ticket counter after all the passengers were let off the detained plane and observed them carrying passports from Pakistan." He said, "It definitely seems like it was racial profiling, based on what they look like physically and the fact they are Pakistani. It seems like this was a false accusation."
The couple did not identify themselves but "said authorities explained they were picked at random for questioning." They also said they were treated well. Other passengers described their time waiting in the plane (which was moved to a remote tarmac) while the authorities were determining the nature of the threat. Apparently they were able to go online but not allowed to access their overhead baggage. Another passenger said everyone was calm, if frustrated.
The FBI's spokesman said, "We take any threat against an airline or potential terrorist activity very seriously. You treat them like it’s real until proven otherwise because the cost of failure is so high."