Police questioned, handcuffed and marched a man through the main terminal of Kelowna’s airport Saturday afternoon following a threat toward a WestJet flight that came to nothing.
The terminal was crowded and people parted gape-jawed to let the man pass.
He was accompanied by two male RCMP officers, one at each shoulder, and a female officer following closely, rolling what looked to be the man’s luggage of a duffel bag on rollers and a backpack.
The man wore a blue baseball cap, blue and grey hoodie and grey pants.
He looked straight ahead as he was quickly escorted behind closed doors in the airport’s customs-clearance area.
“The person of interest is still in custody and no charges have been laid,” said Kelowna RCMP spokesman Const. Kris Clark late in the afternoon.
“The nature of the threat is not being divulged as the investigation continues.”
The incident at the airport started shortly after noon when someone made a threat against WestJet Flight 464, which was to leave Kelowna for Calgary at 1:45 p.m. How that threat came in and to whom was not disclosed.
The plane for that flight was WestJet 3121 from Edmonton, due at 12:40 p.m.
The jet landed without incident, but full emergency policies and procedures were already set in motion.
The plane was ordered to taxi to apron No. 3, farther away from the main terminal.
The 98 passengers aboard sat on the plane for about 90 minutes before being transferred to buses, where they sat for about another 90 minutes.
“We were sweating our asses off,” said passenger Steve Vadnais.
“We weren’t told much. They left us hanging. We all thought it was a bomb threat.”
While passengers were held, luggage was unloaded onto the tarmac and police dogs had a sniff.
The luggage was finally cleared and passengers were bused to the terminal, where their luggage eventually came up on carousel No. 2.
In the meantime, WestJet 464 to Calgary was cancelled midway through check-in.
All luggage for that flight was also checked and cleared by about 3:45 p.m., two hours after the flight was to leave.
The luggage came back to waiting passengers, who were rebooked on flights to Calgary that night.
The plane that was threatened was also cleared and flew back to Calgary empty, except for crew.
A few flights due to land in the afternoon were delayed because of the ruckus, but the airport
remained open with most flights arriving and taking off on time.
“This was an isolated incident targeting a specific flight,” said airport spokeswoman Jenelle Hynes.
“Safety and security is always our No. 1 priority. There was no immediate concern for people inside the terminal, so we didn’t have to evacuate.”
During this time, about 3,000 people passed through the terminal.