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Plane Diverted to SLC after Passenger Acted "Strangely"

Plane Diverted to SLC after Passenger Acted "Strangely"



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Samantha Hayes ReportingAnnoyed turned into angry and a confrontation at 20,000 feet convinced a pilot on his way to New York to make a hard turn to Salt Lake City. It happened on a Delta Airlines flight from Los Angeles; the man was headed to the Middle East and flight attendants didn't like it when he seemed secretive.

A spokesman for the FBI is calling it a miscommunication between a passenger and the flight crew. Here's what we know. An Egyptian national named Kamel Hanna was on flight 1986. His ultimate destination was Cairo.

A flight attendant reportedly asked him to turn off his cell phone, and he replied "it's not a cell phone,” then he showed her it was a butane lighter.

The attendant asked for the device, along with Hanna's passport and ticket. He got upset and authorities tell us, at point he stood up and asked, "where's my passport". That's when the pilot chose to divert the plane to Salt Lake.

Passengers on board Delta flight 1986 were held at Salt Lake City's International terminal while dogs sniffed through all the baggage. They say they had no idea why they were being diverted.

Chris Mora, Passenger: "When we first got on the flight he had like a little confrontation with the stewardess, I don't know. They made him check in a bag or something."

Robert Ashmore, Passenger: “He got up like he was conversing with somebody several rows behind him. He looked like he was angry about something.”

Dean Ferraro, Passenger: “Everyone thought it was a medical emergency. So everybody was really calm. There was no sense of urgency, but we definitely made a hard turn for Salt Lake.”

A Delta spokesperson says in situations like this, the pilot has the option to alter the flight plan.

Paulette Corbin, Delta Spokesperson: "He was just suspicious, how he brought the butane lighter on board, because, actually, it's not against the law to bring a butane lighter on board the aircraft. He did have it concealed though, and that was the part that was of concern to the crew."

As soon as the plane landed airport police, Federal air marshals and TSA agents boarded the aircraft and escorted Hanna off.

Robert Ashmore, Passnger: "Initially he resisted. There was a little scuffle there. And then after about thirty seconds, the four of them and one of him, he just followed them off the plane."

Passengers, who had to be rescreened by security, took the two hour delay in stride.

Dean Ferraro, Passenger: “It was handled very professionally, and very efficiently. I just hope I make my flight to Rome."

A spokesman says the miscommunication was cleared up and Mr. Hanna was allowed to go free. Last word we heard was Delta was trying to find him another flight to New York.

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