Man arrested in Seattle after allegedly threatening a Ketchikan-bound Alaska Airlines flight

Alaska Airlines flight landing at the Juneau Airport. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)
Alaska Airlines flight landing at the Juneau Airport. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Port of Seattle police arrested a man Saturday morning after authorities say he threatened a Ketchikan-bound Alaska Airlines flight. Police did not release the suspect’s identity.

“Onboard the aircraft, the suspect called in a false claim of a security threat,” Port of Seattle spokesperson Kate Hudson said in an email.

It’s not clear when the threat was made, or to whom it was directed.

Hudson said police responded at about 7:30 a.m. local time. She said passengers of flight 65 were removed from the plane, interviewed, and their luggage screened. The aircraft was later cleared, Hudson said. She said the incident didn’t affect operations at the airport.

Alaska Airlines spokesperson Cailee Olson said the passengers were transferred to another aircraft. She says delays from the incident are limited to Saturday’s five stops on flight 65, also known as the “milk run.” The flight runs from Seattle to Anchorage daily, with stops along the way in four Southeast Alaska cities. Olson called the suspect an “unruly passenger.”

Ketchikan attorney Stephen Bradford was heading home on flight 65 Saturday morning.

He says shortly after the plane started taxiing, the unnamed man walked toward the cockpit. Bradford says a flight attendant stopped the man, who Bradford estimated was in his 20s or 30s, and told him to turn around and return to his seat.

“And he did,” Bradford said. “He turned around back down the aisle, but quickly came forward again. And [the flight attendant] stood up to block his way a little bit, but also, she was grabbing for the phone to notify the cockpit, and he just kind of brushed past her and went quickly into the lavatory.”

Bradford said the suspect wasn’t in the bathroom for long. Bradford says he watched as a flight attendant scolded him and told him to put his black, gaiter-style mask back on and return to his seat. Bradford said the flight attendant opened the door to the lavatory, called the cockpit, and the plane came to a halt.

The plane then proceeded to a runway on the west side of the airport — that’s standard practice for security clearance, according to port spokesperson Hudson.

Bradford says he saw more than a dozen police cars waiting. He says four officers boarded the plane — including two with rifles — and arrested the suspect without incident.

The 30 passengers and five crew eventually departed Seattle on a replacement plane after a roughly seven-hour delay.

Bradford praised the Alaska Airlines crew for their calm and professionalism.

This is a developing story and may be updated if new information becomes available.