JetBlue Flight Sends Out False Hijack Alert, Is Stormed by SWAT Team

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Well, that was scary.

Police at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport stormed a JetBlue flight Tuesday after a radio glitch caused the plane to send out a false hijack alert.

At about 8 p.m., JetBlue Flight 1623 lost contact with air traffic control as it was on the runway, about to take off for Los Angeles. The Airbus A321 sent out a code used to indicate that a hijacker or security threat is onboard the aircraft. After air traffic controllers couldn’t reach the cockpit, police swarmed around the aircraft on the runway.

A SWAT team stormed the plane and “told us to pull our phones away and leave (our) hands up,” a passenger told CNN.

At one point, the pilot wrote his cell phone number on a sheet of paper and stuck it against the windshield so police could make contact, the New York Daily News reported. A JetBlue spokesperson said that “while communication was reestablished via alternate channels, authorities responded out of an abundance of caution.”

Police inspected the aircraft and determined that there was no emergency, however the plane still returned to the gate. Passengers boarded a new aircraft and left about four hours after the original scheduled departure.

Passengers on the flight were understandably terrified by the incident. One tweeted this message:

“I am on a Jet Blue flight at JFK that lost its communications. Created a security crisis. 10 heavily armed cops boarded plane and just left. After 1.5 hours on runway being towed back to gate. Wow.”

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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