American Airlines flight diverted after passenger's 'alarming' 9/11 speech

An American Airlines plane taking off from London's Heathrow Airport.
An American Airlines plane taking off from London's Heathrow Airport.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An American Airlines flight bound for Philadelphia from Los Angeles was diverted to Phoenix on Thursday (Oct 29) after a passenger made "alarming" statements referencing the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, police said.

The passenger was removed from American Airlines Flight 754 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport and transported to a psychiatric facility for evaluation under an involuntary hold, said Sergeant Vince Lewis of the Phoenix Police Department.

"We had a situation where right after take-off a passenger stood and walked to the first class section, where he stood at attention there and refused to take his seat," Sgt Lewis said.

"He began making statements that, although they were alarming and threatening in nature, gave the flight crew the indication (of possible mental health issues)," he said.

He said some of the passenger's comments referenced the attacks of 9/11 and his beliefs about the government.

The flight, which departed Los Angeles International Airport at 8.38am Pacific Time, carried 150 passengers, three infants and six crew members, and was refuelled and allowed to continue on to Philadelphia, a spokesman for American Airlines said.

A spokesman for the Phoenix airport declined comment, referring calls to police.