Atlanta Airport Halts Flights After ‘Threatening Note’ Found On Plane

A ‘threatening note’ found on an American Airlines aircraft at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Saturday caused the airport to temporarily halt flights. After the Atlanta Police Department searched the plane, normal service was resumed.

An American Airlines Airbus A321
A note found on an American Airlines plane caused a stop to flights. Photo: Glenn Beltz via Wikimedia

Passengers at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had to deal with a temporary delay caused by a ‘threatening note’ found on an aircraft that was ready to depart the airport yesterday. The note was discovered aboard an American Airlines flight bound for Dallas/Fort Worth shortly before 7 am.

According to reports by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the note was described by police as a sticker placed on the floor of the aircraft which made references to people dying.

What happened after the note was discovered?

All passengers had already boarded the aircraft when a crew member discovered the note on the floor of the galley. The pilot was informed and, for the sake of security, made the decision to return the aircraft to the gate in case the note was part of an actual attempt to hurt passengers.

The Atlanta Police Department was informed, all passengers were evacuated from the plane and re-screened through security. After a thorough check of the aircraft to ensure there were no more suspicious items aboard, the Atlanta Police Department gave it the all-clear.

How did the discovery of the note affect the rest of the airport?

As with all potential security threats at airports, whether they’re big or small, the discovery of the note was taken very seriously. Although the flight was ready to take off and was already taxiing to the runway, the pilot made a decision to prioritize security over convenience.

Atlanta Concourse D Aerial
Atlanta Police Department conducted a thorough search of the aircraft. Photo: formulanone via Flickr

As the security check was being carried out, a general ground stop was imposed across the airport. The police search didn’t last very long and the airport was back up and running as normal by just before 9 am.

Although the temporary grounding didn’t last very long, it affected all aircraft at the airport for well over an hour. Considering Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport, even this relatively short delay will have affected many thousands of people.

The police search of the aircraft didn’t reveal any further security threats. It also didn’t result in any arrests in connection with the incident. If the ‘threatening note’ was actually deemed to have been a threat of some kind, then it’s safe to assume that the police investigation will be taken further.

Hartsfield Jackson is one of the busiest airports in the world. Photo: Hartsfield Jackson International Airport

As of yet there hasn’t been any information regarding a police investigation, and the police haven’t disclosed what the note said. If the note wasn’t part of an actual threat, then it’s hard to imagine any charges would come about as a result of the incident.

Civil proceedings may be another matter, as a significant amount of time and money was lost. But, again, it’s hard to imagine any lawsuit for damages as a result of applying a sticker to the floor would go anywhere.

A list of flights delayed by the incident will be made available on Monday, according to an FAA spokesperson.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has not yet been able to respond to Simple Flying’s request for comment on the incident.