Unruly passenger forces emergency landing in Boston

BOSTON – A woman panicking from claustrophobia caused a Washington-bound flight from London to make an emergency landing in Boston on Wednesday, sparking a major security alert.

Police and other officials said there was no apparent terrorist threat, but the incident set off a major security response a week after British authorities said they had foiled a plot to blow up planes from London to the United States.

United Airlines flight 923, carrying 182 passengers and 12 crew, was escorted by fighter jets to Boston after crew members confronted a 59-year-old U.S. woman who became unruly due to an apparent panic attack, officials said. Nenette Day, a spokeswoman with the FBI in Boston, said the woman became disruptive on the flight and had to be forcibly restrained.

The woman was carrying hand cream and matches but was not a terrorist threat, said Christopher White, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman. Those items are not banned on commercial flights, he said. “There are no known links to terrorism regarding this event at this time,” said White.

One media report carried on CNN and major TV networks, and later denied, said the woman had Vaseline, a screwdriver, matches and a note on the Islamic militant group al Qaeda.

The FBI’s Day said a search of her belongings produced no dangerous materials and no note from al Qaeda. “Her carry-on bags subsequently were searched and matches were found in the bag as well as a gelatin-like substance but those items were not deemed to have any terrorist connection or pose a threat to the aircraft,” Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told a news conference.