Florida-bound flight diverted because of ‘suspicious’ Christmas ornament

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An Orlando, Fla.-bound Northwest Airlines flight was diverted to Nashville, Tenn.,
this morning after a suspicious item was discovered on board the plane,
but it was later determined that the object in question was a Christmas
ornament.

“A suspicious item was found and out of an abundance of caution, the pilot decided to divert to Nashville,” Delta Air Lines spokesman Carlos Santos said. “It turned out to be a Christmas ornament.”

Delta recently acquired Northwest.

The flight landed in Nashville, and passengers got off the plane before the item of concern was identified to be a harmless ornament, Santos said.

Santos could not say this morning what exactly led to all the concern about the item in question.

Northwest 2364 had 75 passengers and five crew members. The plane involved was an Airbus 320.

The diversion and landing occurred about 8:30 a.m., Delta said

Passengers later reboarded the flight, and the plane eventually landed at Orlando International Airport before 1 p.m., an airport spokesman said.

The incident comes exactly one week after a man flying from Nigeria to Amsterdam and then to the U.S. on a Northwest Airlines flight tried to ignite an explosive as the plane prepared to land in Detroit.

Santos could not say whether that incident, which
has received broad attention and renewed concerns about air travel,
influenced the decision of the pilot involved in today’s diverted
flight.

The diversion was made “to ensure passenger safety,” he said.

Passengers Lindsay Vandenbroeck, 22, and Lauren Cockels, 18, students at Michigan State University,
said the initial announcement about the suspicious item was unnerving,
but they didn’t mind the inconvenience and delay in the end.

“I’m glad they did it because I’d rather play it safe than sorry … and they gave us free lunch,” Vandenbroeck said.

Several passengers said neither the flight crew nor
airline officials told passengers what concerned them. Passengers were
taken to a remote part of Nashville International Airport, where they were searched. The plane, an Airbus 320, also was searched by dogs.

The most troubling part was when they first learned about the flight being diverted.

“Yeah it was kind of scary,” Cockels said.

“They didn’t tell us (why),” said Vandenbroeck. “They just said we’re going to have an emergency landing.”

“They never told us what it was, but everyone asked,” said Michaela Belanger, 25, of Windsor, Ontario.

“They said there’s a suspicious object and not to be concerned,” she said.

“They handled it very well,” Belanger said.

Passengers were told to take only their phones and IDs when they deboarded in Nashville, they said.

The flight later resumed when the suspicious item was found to be a Christmas ornament.

(c) 2010, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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