A Continental Airlines jetliner flying from Newark, New Jersey, to Bogota, Colombia, was diverted to Jacksonville, Florida, over suspicion that a passenger was on the government’s watch list of suspected terrorists banned from commercial flights. It turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.
The passenger — one of 75 on board — was cleared by the FBI at Jacksonville International Airport and permitted to continue on the flight to Colombia, the Transportation Security Administration said.
In Friday’s incident, the government was expected to investigate how the passenger was allowed to board the plane before being positively deemed safe.
An airline is not supposed to issue a boarding pass to a person on the government’s no-fly list.
It was not immediately clear whether the passenger, who was not identified, went through additional screening in Newark before boarding the plane.
The airlines do not have any information other than the names on the list. Some airlines already have moved to a new identification programme, called Secure Flight. All domestic carriers are expected to move to the new programme by March.