WASHINGTON – U.S. authorities diverted a San Francisco-bound United Airlines jet to Dallas as a precautionary security measure Monday after finding an unclaimed BlackBerry hand-held computer on board.
Officials had also found and removed an unidentified backpack from the jet before it left Atlanta, Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said.
TSA officials said passengers of United flight 351 and their carry-on items received additional screening at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and nothing was found to be amiss. Authorities also used a police dog to search the plane's cabin.
United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said 50 people were aboard the Airbus 319. After being rescreened, the passengers were scheduled to reboard and resume their flight to San Francisco. The backpack belonged to a woman who had been a passenger on an earlier flight on the same jet, Urbanski said.
Clark said United flight 351 was diverted to Dallas "out of an abundance of caution."
"The aircraft is secure," Clark said. She said there was no indication that the hand-held computer was being used as an explosive device or trigger.
The flight was diverted on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Authorities decided not to send military fighter aircraft to escort the jet, as is routine during an emergency, said Lt. Col. John Cornelio, a spokesman for U.S. Northern Command.