MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ninety-two passengers aboard a flight from Florida to Minneapolis were delayed for six hours, after wondering why their plane was being turned around shortly after takeoff.
Spirit Airlines flight 596 was scheduled to land in the Twin Cities at 12:20 a.m. Friday morning. But about 45 minutes into the flight from Fort Lauderdale to MSP the aircraft abruptly turned around and headed back to the airport.
Apparently, a passenger was alleged to have said something referencing a bomb.
Val Massmann, Megan Danielsen and Katie Detloff were headed home after a Mexican getaway.
“All of a sudden the pilot came over the speaker and said, ‘Hey, we’re turning around to Fort Lauderdale,'” Massmann said.
The plane taxied to a remote part of the runway. That’s when passengers knew the so-called safety measure was serious.
“More and more vehicles kept coming and officers, we saw dogs going around the plane,” Danielson said.
Photographs taken by passengers show police escorting two men off the plane, leading them to awaiting squads. Once the men were off the plane, officers with explosives-sniffing dogs began working the isle of the aircraft.
“They treat me like a terrorist guy, it was really intense,” the passenger who was detained and later released, Yaniv Yeneev, said.
Yeneev, 38, was flying to Minneapolis on business when he was arrested and questioned by the FBI and local police. A short time later he was released without charges as authorities called it a “misunderstanding.”
Yeneev, speaking along with his attorney, feels he was profiled, “being somebody who has a different look from most of the people on the airplane,” he said.
Passengers say they understand the heightened security in wake of the threats from terrorism across the globe.
“The gentleman looked surprised to me, there was no fight, no shoving,” Detloff said.
“They were grabbed and cuffed and off the plane in just 5 minutes,” Danielson said.
A second man who was taken from the plane was later determined to have no connection to the incident.
Yeneev was released without charges, but said he wants an apology from the airline and a full refund.
Spirit Airlines issued a statement saying the crew followed appropriate protocol to assure the safety of everyone aboard.