A Delta flight from Kennedy Airport bound for Madrid turned around Thursday night after one of the four marshals on board saw "suspicious wires" in a lavatory, a law enforcement source said.
Port Authority police, the NYPD and emergency services met the plane once it landed, the source said. It was parked on a taxiway when authorities boarded the plane.
An NYPD source said it did not appear that any explosive device was on board and it was possibly just drinking straws and wires. A law enforcement source said the package was not connected to a detonator and it looked like wires inside of a tube and had straws that resembled handles.
Sources said an air marshal noticed the package in the lavatory while the plane was in midair and became suspicious of a woman on the plane who at the same time was saying she was ill and having trouble breathing.
In a brief statement, the Transportation Security Administration said Delta Flight 126 returned to Kennedy after a "suspicious item" was found on board.
"As a precautionary measure, the plane taxied to a remote location, where passengers were escorted off the plane," TSA said. "The aircraft was searched with negative results."
While the craft was in flight and returning to Kennedy, authorities asked the plane's captain if he wanted to evacuate the aircraft, the law enforcement source said. The captain said no, but asked for law enforcement to meet the plane. In a subsequent communication, the captain mentioned the female passenger, who was later associated with the package, which had wires extending from it, the source said.
The captain also said that other individuals were traveling with the female passenger, the law enforcement source said. The marshal had believed the woman may have been faking her illness as part of a terror plot, the NYPD source said.
The woman was being interviewed on the ground along with a man who had also used the lavatory just before the wires were discovered, the NYPD source said.
Authorities were still with her Thursday night, the source said.
Eventually the passengers were taken inside the terminal and were to be interviewed by law enforcement.
The Federal Aviation Administration would only confirm that a Delta plane returned to Kennedy Airport after departing Thursday night.
In a brief statement, Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said the plane, which carried 206 passengers, returned to Kennedy "out of an abundance of caution . . . due to a security concern."
Flight 126, a Boeing 767, had left Kennedy Airport at 8:10 p.m. for Madrid, Spain, and returned to Kennedy at 9:33 p.m., an FAA spokeswoman said.
The plane traveled about 100 miles east of Martha's Vineyard before it returned to JFK, according to FlightAware.com.
With Ellen Yan, Anthony M. DeStefano and Candice Ruud