Airliner evacuated at JIA after threatening note passed by passenger

By Dan Scanlan, September 20, 2011

A woman walked up to a flight attendant Tuesday morning with a Bible in one hand and a envelope in the other.

That’s when Delta passenger Sean Hall said an incident that ultimately forced passengers on board the Atlanta-bound flight at a Jacksonville International Airport all began.

Hall was up front around 10 a.m. when the woman, who he described as small in stature and in her 50s or 60s, walked past and asked for the lead flight attendant. She was nervous, “physically shaking” as she handed over a note, he said.

“The flight attendant read it and her eyes got big and she said, ‘Don’t move,’ ” Hall said. “… We knew something was wrong from the look on the flight attendant.”

The captain and attendant walked the woman off the airplane for questioning by the FBI and others. Then the passengers were evacuated and the aircraft checked out before it was allowed to continue at 12:05 p.m., according to Jacksonville Aviation Authority spokeswoman Debbie Jones.

“The aircraft was swept by canine crews and nothing was found,” Jones said.

The woman did not check any baggage, Jones said. Airport officials wouldn’t release the contents of the note, nor any information on the woman or whether alcohol might have been involved. But Hall said the flight attendant told them the letter said that she was hijacking the plane, plus “I have no weapons. I want to go to jail.”

Hall said the flight crew handled everything very well.

“She [flight attendant] was very calm and casual. If you didn’t know something was going on, you wouldn’t have known,” Hall said.

Jones said the airport had protocol in place to “mitigate any kind of threat” a flight crew could be faced with, adding she hasn’t seen an incident like this in recent past.



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