'Goodbye' call delays flight

'Goodbye' call delays flight

Passenger alerts cabin crew to 'suspicious' woman

A flight was grounded and a Turkish woman detained for three hours at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday after an apparent misunderstanding over a phone call.

Aeroflot flight SU 271 was due to leave Bangkok for Moscow at 10.15am when a passenger alerted cabin crew to a woman behaving "suspiciously". The woman was overheard talking on her mobile while the plane was taxiing for takeoff. Thai media reported that she uttered what sounded like her last words.

The captain was informed of the situation and delayed the flight. All 320 passengers were asked to disembark and the woman was taken into custody.

The incident comes amid heightened fears over terrorist attacks targeting Russia, after more than 200 Russian tourists were killed when attackers blew up a flight from Egypt to Saint Petersburg last month.

Chula Sukmanop, director-general of the Airport Department, said the pilot parked the Aeroflot plane at an isolated bay for security reasons. Airports of Thailand Plc president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said nothing suspicious was found on the plane or any passengers, and the aircraft was due to fly out of the airport at 6pm yesterday.

The Turkish woman, identified as Sefika Kanik, 38, was taken to Suvarnabhumi Police Station and questioned for three hours. She told officers she was speaking to her boyfriend on the phone and simply said "goodbye" to him before takeoff.

Pol Lt Col Kawee Ratana-bangkomtham said the incident was likely a misunderstanding and passengers nearby may have misinterpreted her phone conversation.

On Friday, Bangkok Airways cancelled a flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui following a bomb threat by a Swiss passenger.

"A bomb threat may have been caused by anger from a quarrel, but this violates Thai aviation laws," said Sirote Duangratana, general manager of Suvarnabhumi airport, who confirmed no suspicious items were found. Bangkok Airways will take legal action against the passenger.

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