An accidental report of a hijacking prompted authorities to surround a Los Angeles-bound JetBlue flight on the tarmac Tuesday night in New York City.
Flight 1623 was on the ground at John F. Kennedy International Airport, with a scheduled departure of 7:30 p.m., when the pilot tried to alert the control tower that the aircraft's radio wasn't working, but he instead keyed in a code signaling a hijacking, law enforcement sources told the New York Post.
Police, firefighters and ambulances scrambled to the scene but after a check of the plane, the flight departed at 11:23 p.m. and was due to land at Los Angeles International Airport at 2:28 a.m. Wednesday. Shaken up passengers at LAX told NBC4 they were asked to raise their arms as officers searched the plane, delaying the flight for about two hours.
"Plane stopped, they were telling us they were departing, and the next thing you know there's one cop car pulling up to tha airplane," said passenger Sam Boone. "Then in five minutes, there's five more, then there are 20 cops cars outside."
A passenger on the plane tweeted that "10 heavily armed cops boarded plane," which spent 90 minutes on the runway before it was towed back to the gate.
They eventually returned to the gate and boarded another plane.
"Shortly before departure, Flight 1623 from New York JFK to Los Angeles experienced a radio issue impacting the crew's ability to communicate and a false alarm was sent to JFK tower," JetBlue spokeswoman Paula Acevedo said in a statement. "While communication was re-established via alternate channels, authorities responded in an abundance of caution. The aircraft was cleared and returned to the gate for inspection."