Southwest Airlines received an anonymous call shortly after the
flight's departure that there was a bomb on the plane, Gill said, and
relayed the message to officials at the Burbank Airport. Southwest
decided the plane would return to Burbank, where it landed around
5:30 p.m. and was directed to a location away from buildings and
other aircrafts for inspection, Gill said.
"Southwest Airlines places safety as a No. 1 priority," Southwest
spokeswoman Ginger Hardage said. "That influenced the decision to
return the aircraft to Burbank."
About 120 passengers were evacuated from the plane via the
emergency slides and bused back to the airport terminal, where they
were directed to stay until inspections of the plane were completed.
The aircraft was inspected by an Los Angeles International Airport
K9 unit, said Burbank Airport Police Chief Steve Staveley. The Los
Angeles County Sheriff's Department bomb squad and the FBI were also
present. Nothing suspicious was uncovered, Staveley said.
One the airport's two runways was shut down, but the airport was
never closed, Gill said.
"There were some initial very short-term air traffic delays ...
not substantial in my view," Gill said. "If there were delays, they
were of a very short-term duration."
Clearing the plane to depart again took about two hours, at which
point Southwest brought out a second aircraft to fly passengers to
the intended destination.
"Some [of the passengers] elected not to go, but most of them did
go [on to Phoenix]," Gill said. "We are glad that there was no truth
to the threat that was turned in. We feel very fortunate we were able
to keep the airport in operation during this event."
Airport police are currently working with Burbank Police
Department and the FBI in trying to locate the caller who initially
made the threat to Southwest, Staveley said. If found, the individual
could face federal and state charges.
"It is very disheartening that someone would chose to pull a hoax
like this that inconvenienced a lot of people," Hardage said. "We try
to work with authorities on issues like these all the way to