HONOLULU — Fighter jets were scrambled to escort an American Airlines flight to Honolulu after a disruptive passenger’s laptop caused fear among flight attendants that it may contain explosives. Here’s a timeline of events involving Anil Uskanli’s travel to Hawaii.
12:03 a.m., Friday, May 19: Anil Uskanli uses a credit card to purchase a ticket to Honolulu at Los Angeles International Airport. He later goes through a security checkpoint.
Around 2:45 a.m. PDT: He opens a door to an airfield ramp and walks up to a contractor asking where he can get food, according to airport police. The contractor calls airport police, and officers arrive. Officers notice that he smells of alcohol, but there are no visible signs he’s drunk. Police issue a citation for misdemeanor trespassing, confiscate his boarding pass and walk him out to a public area of the airport. He then goes back, gets another boarding pass for the flight and goes through security screening again.
8:43 a.m. PDT: American Airlines Flight No. 31 pushes off from the gate. Uskanli is the first passenger to board, carrying only a laptop, phone and some items in his pockets, according to a criminal complaint.
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9:10 a.m. PDT: The Airbus A321 is airborne, carrying 181 passengers and six crew members. Passengers seated near Uskanli notice his strange behavior, including talking to himself and talking about being a famous actor. At one point, he goes to use the bathroom, but he doesn’t lock the door. He gets upset when a passenger walks in and starts yelling and pounding on walls, according to the complaint.
During six-hour flight: Uskanli moves out of his assigned seat, 35B, and walks toward the front of the plane while carrying his laptop and with a blanket wrapped around his head. A flight attendant pushes a drink cart down the aisle to block him, the complaint said. Several passengers, including an off-duty law enforcement agent, stand up to help. Uskanli puts his laptop on the drink cart. Flight attendants are frightened of the laptop because of warnings that laptops may contain explosives that are undetected by airport screening. The off-duty officer sits with him for the remainder of the flight.
About 9:50 a.m. HST, Friday May 19: An airline corporate security representative notifies FBI that the flight has enacted safety precautions because of a disruptive passenger.
About 10:30 a.m. HST: Hawaii National Guard receives a request to check out an aircraft heading to Honolulu, according to spokesman Lt. Col Charles Anthony. They scramble two F-22 Raptors from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to meet the plane and escort it to Honolulu International Airport.
11:35 a.m. HST: The plane lands. Local law enforcement officers, FBI agents and bomb technicians secure the plane and seize the laptop, according to the complaint. Dogs sweep the aircraft. All passengers and carry-on bags are re-screened. Checked bags are inspected by an explosive detection canine team. No explosives are found. Passengers are bused to the terminal. Uskanli is taken into custody, signs a waiver of his rights and consents to an interview with FBI agents. He consents to a urine test and a series of field sobriety tests. The urinalysis is presumptively positive for benzodiazepine, and the field tests show possible use of stimulants or cannabis.
May 20: U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren signs the FBI affidavit, finding that there is probable cause for a charge of interference with flight crew members and attendants.
May 22: The criminal complaint is filed in federal court in Honolulu. Uskanli remains held at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center.
1:45 p.m. HST, May 22: Uskanli appears in federal court in Honolulu for a brief initial appearance. He speaks briefly with a Turkish interpreter. Federal Public Defender Peter Wolff requests a competency evaluation. Kurren orders the evaluation.
AP Airlines Writer David Koenig in Dallas and AP Writer Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.