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Officials: Phone threat cancels American Airlines flight

American Airlines flight 24 passengers were evacuated at

American Airlines flight 24 passengers were evacuated at San Francisco International Airport, Thursday, August 19, 2010. The San Francisco to New York flight was not allowed to take off and was moved away from the terminals after receiving a telephone threat. Credit: MCT

Passengers aboard an American Airlines flight due to depart for New York were detained and questioned at San Francisco International Airport Thursday after a phone call threatening to hijack the jetliner, officials said.

American Airlines Flight 24 was grounded for several hours while authorities swept the aircraft. No threat was found and all 163 passengers were safe, the Transportation Security Agency said in a statement last night.

Passengers were ordered off the Boeing 767 and taken by buses to a terminal where they were sent through security again. All passengers aboard the plane were questioned, including a man and a woman taken by handcuff and questioned separately, said Mary Crandell, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's San Francisco office. The man and woman were later released.

All passengers were then allowed to continue on their travels, said Sgt. Michael Rodriguez of the San Francisco Police Airport Bureau. The flight itself was canceled. The flight had been scheduled to leave San Francisco at 10:30 a.m. New York time and was due to arrive at Kennedy Airport around 4 p.m.

"There was no fear in the cabin at all," passenger Michael Kidd told The Associated Press. "Even with the frustration of having to sit there, there were no raised voices."

Passengers with Internet access searched the web for details about the incident. Flight attendants admonished passengers who tried to get up and reach overhead luggage, Kidd said. Passengers were allowed to go to the restroom one at a time, he said.

The threat report originated from a clerk at a business in Alameda, a city across San Francisco Bay from the airport, Alameda police Lt. Bill Scott told AP. The clerk called dispatchers at the Alameda Police Department shortly after 9 a.m. local time and said her business had received an anonymous phone call "making a threat specifically about Flight 24," Scott said.

It was the latest in a line of airplane scares in the past year, including the attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner by a Nigerian. In April, a Qatari diplomat touched off a bomb scare in Colorado by slipping into an airline bathroom for a smoke. - With AP

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