BALTIMORE (ABC7) — Several people were removed from Spirit Airlines flight NK969 after the plane was called back to the gate while taxiing off Tuesday morning, according to ABC7 reporter Suzanne Kennedy, who was on the flight. The flight was scheduled to leave from BWI to Chicago.
According to Kennedy, four passengers were initially removed from the flight, three males and one woman. They reportedly had several backpacks and appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, in their early 30s.
Police say a witness notified the flight crew when she saw one of the men watching a "media report" on his cell phone. Following 'see something, say something,' she notified the flight crew.
Three additional passengers were subsequently called out from the loud speaker and removed from the plane.
Following the removal of those additional passengers, Kennedy reported that all of the other passengers on the flight were deplaned as well. Following a security check by the TSA, the flight was cleared for takeoff around 8:45 a.m.
A federal law enforcement source said the flight crew was not comfortable with several passengers on board.
The flight crew requested police to remove those passengers.
According to a spokesperson for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, MDTA Police removed three adult males and one adult female and transported them to an MDTA Police station where they were interviewed. At 9:45 a.m., one adult male was released with no charges. Police continue to interview the remaining two males and one female.
Spirit Airlines released the following statement:
Spirit Airlines flight 969, scheduled for a 6 a.m. departure from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) to Chicago O'Hare international Airport (ORD), experienced a delay this morning due to law enforcement activity. While the aircraft was taxiing to the runway, a passenger alerted a flight attendant of a passenger engaged in suspicious activity on board. The flight attendant notified the captain, and out of an abundance of caution, the plane returned to the gate. Law enforcement officers removed four passengers from the plane for questioning. All passengers were deplaned for a brief time. The aircraft and luggage has been cleared by the TSA and the plane is scheduled to take off shortly. All questions regarding the investigation should be directed to the TSA and Maryland Transportation Authority Police.