A security scare that prompted authorities to recall an airborne flight to Philadelphia was the result of an apparent hoax, authorities said Thursday.
A passenger removed from the Dallas-bound US Airways Flight 1267 did nothing wrong and was the victim of "a pretty nasty trick," Philadelphia police Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan said.
Sullivan said police at Philadelphia International Airport received a call around 7:30 a.m. that named a passenger who was carrying a dangerous substance.
That name matched a passenger on board the flight to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, prompting officials to recall the aircraft after it had already made it halfway across Pennsylvania.
After landing, the airplane taxied to a remote section of the airport, where a slew of law enforcement vehicles surrounded it. Law enforcement officials could be seen removing a person from the flight and putting him in the back of a police car.
Sullivan said the passenger was alarmed and stunned to be approached by heavily armed officers on the plane.
Bomb technicians and specially trained dogs then searched the plane. That search turned up nothing illegal or hazardous, Sullivan said.
Sullivan stressed that the passenger is not a suspect and did nothing wrong. Police are treating the hoax seriously, he said.
"This is no joke, this is no laughing matter," he said.
The airplane had 69 passengers and five crew members on board, airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said.
Sullivan said the investigation into the call to police had been turned over to the FBI.
FBI Special Agent Richard Quinn said it was too early to speculate about what sort of charges could be filed against the person who made the call, but they could be "severe."