A flight from Houston to Chicago has been diverted to St. Louis after a passenger tried to open a door near the front of the plane, according to a passenger on the flight.
Continental Flight No. 546 made an emergency landing in St. Louis after a tall, burly passenger reportedly tried to open a door in flight, said Sara Olkon, a former Tribune reporter. Responding to screams from a flight attendant, the man was reportedly accosted by an air marshal on board.
"It felt very inevitable," said Olkon, who had just been reading articles in The New York Times about the death of Osama Bin Laden. "I started shaking and tears were coming out of my eyes. My heart was pounding through my chest."
Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, confirmed that the plane had been diverted because passenger had tried to open a door. The incident happened at about 1:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time and the plane landed at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport at 1:28 p.m., Lunsford said.
Law enforcement officials met the plane in St. Louis and the man was taken into custody, Lunsford said.
The crew of the flight diverted the flight because of an "unruly" passenger, said Julie King, a Continental spokeswoman. There was no indication that there was any terrorist threat, she said. The flight was on the ground for about an hour before it took off en route to Chicago. She did not provide other details.
Olkon said law enforcement authorities boarded the plane parked at the gate in St. Louis to inspect for explosives. Squad cars still surrounded the plane on the tarmac about 30 minutes after landing, she said.
Flight attendants reminded passengers over the loudspeaker to "remain calm," but added that it was unclear when the plane would proceed to Chicago or whether they would make their connections.
Earlier today, a Delta Airlines flight from Detroit to San Diego was diverted to Albuquerque, N.M. The flight was cleared to take off again after authorities found "no suspicious devices" on the plane, the FBI said.
FBI spokesman Frank Fisher declined to clarify the nature of the "potential security threat" that caused the plane to be diverted to New Mexico. He says agents searched the plane and interviewed the crew and 107 passengers before clearing the aircraft to fly again.