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"Suspicious" bathroom break blamed for 9/11 flight scare

Fighter jets scrambled after Detroit passengers spent too long in the airplane restroom on September 11; FBI says they were "victims of circumstance."

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(Antler)

FBI officials have released three passengers who were the focus of a security scare on board a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Detroit on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The two men and a woman, sitting in the same row on Frontier Flight 623, were reported by crew members as exhibiting suspicious behavior after one of the men felt sick and went to the bathroom during the flight. His seat mate stood up around the same time, arousing concerns, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NORAD scrambled F-16 fighter jets to shadow the plane after the crew reported that two people were spending "an extraordinarily long time" in the restroom, the Associated Press reports.

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The plane landed at Detroit's Metropolitan Airport, where it then taxied to a location away from the terminal and was swept for explosives, and the three passengers were taken off the plane in handcuffs, the AP says. The remaining passengers were questioned about the trio's behavior. 

Questioning revealed that the men were not in the bathroom at the same time, and the woman never left her seat. The three suspect passengers were "very cooperative" with officials, and no charges were filed against them.

FBI Detroit spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said the passengers were just using the bathroom, and reports about mile-high club sexual encounters taking place are false, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“They’re victims of circumstance and victims of the day,” Berchtold said.

Also on Sunday, NORAD scrambled two F-16 jets to escort an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York after three passengers made repeated trips to the bathroom, the AP says. The incident was similarly not thought to be terrorism.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/110912/frontier-airlines-denver-detroit-september-11-911-air-travel