A bomb threat scribbled on a bathroom mirror aboard a Seattle-bound plane prompted a full-scale terror response after the Airbus A330 aircraft with around 266 passengers and crew onboard made an emergency landing in Iceland.
Condor Airways flight DE2032 departed Frankfurt at around 1:20 pm on Monday for what should have been a routine 10-day to the US West Coast. Instead, the aircraft made a sharp about turn as it was passing over Greenland and diverted to Iceland’s main international airport in Keflavík.
Passengers were initially told that the plane needed to divert to Iceland because of an unspecified “operational error”. The bathrooms were then sealed by “distressed” flight attendants who then informed passengers that the plane had to land because the lavatories were out of order.
Washington-based tattooist Winnie The Jroo was onboard the plane and documented what happened next on TikTok. Passengers were patted down by police officers and had their belonging searched, as check-in luggage was removed from the plane and placed in rows for sniffer dogs.
Jroo and the other passengers were then taken by bus to an aircraft hangar where they had their mugshots taken and were then made to wait for several hours while the aircraft was searched.
Another passenger on the flight said they were kept at the airport until midnight when they were then sent to local hotels to get some rest. After six hours, they were driven back to the airport and a replacement aircraft took them to Seattle.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Condor said the passengers were never at risk and that the emergency landing was just a precaution.
Bomb threats against commercial aircraft are not all that uncommon and in most cases, passengers will have no idea that their flight has been targeted by pranksters. In many cases, internal airline security personnel will allow the flight to continue with no intervention from law enforcement.
In this case, however, the Condor spokesperson says the threat “was analyzed by internal and external experts and in close coordination with all relevant authorities.”
“Purely as a precaution, the aircraft was diverted to the nearest airport, Keflavik, where it was investigated in accordance with applicable protocols and processes,” the statement continued.
“Guests and crew were accommodated in hotels in Iceland. Condor sent a standby aircraft to Iceland to bring guests from there to Seattle. The flight arrived safely in Seattle at around 3:15 pm.”
No threat was discovered by Icelandic police.
In 2012, a member of British Airways cabin crew was arrested after scrawling a bomb threat on the lavatory door of a Tokyo-bound flight. On that occasion, the Captain decided to continue the flight to Japan after determining that the threat was a hoax.
The flight attendant, 22-year-old Matthew Davis, was jailed for six months.
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