Cops and security surrounding the Malindo plane.
SUBANG JAYA: There are many things you can say when boarding a plane. "Bomb" is definitely not one of them.
A passenger, while boarding a Malindo Air flight OD1158 to Penang at 3.40pm Tuesday, got tired of waiting in line for his boarding pass to be checked at the entrance of the plane and uttered, "Why need to check? I have no bomb."
The word sparked a security threat as the airline was forced to evacuate the 37 passengers off the ATR 72-600 plane, tow it to an isolation area and have a bomb squad turn it upside down for explosives.
The passengers were left standing out on the tarmac from 4pm to 8pm, while police searched them one by one.
Petaling Jaya OCPD ACP Azmi Abu Kassim said police then allowed the passengers to board another flight to Penang at 9.30pm. Two passengers decided to take another flight Wednesday.
"While staff were checking the passengers' boarding passes before going on the flight, one of them questioned out loud why they needed to be checked and said he didn't have a bomb.
"After all passengers were seated, the stewardesses alerted the captain and control centre. They made a call not to fly the plane and lodged a police report.
"This is a sensitive word, hence we had to deploy a K9 and bomb unit to evaluate the threat," he said.
ACP Azmi said all passengers were taken off the plane while the aircraft was towed to an isolation area on the runway.
He said investigations revealed that the supposed "bomb threat" was nothing more than just the careless words of an agitated passenger, and that police gave the green light for the passengers to take off at 7.30pm.
"Don't say words like bomb on a plane," he warned.
A passenger, who only wanted to be known as John, said passengers were not told why they were being evacuated from the plane or patted down by authorities.
"They made us stand out there in the runway under the hot sun for hours. It was quite an experience," said John, who had attended an exhibition here over the weekend.
Another passenger, a lawyer who only wanted to be known as Naga, felt authorities had overreacted to the word "bomb".
Meanwhile, Malindo Air said passengers were quarantined as part of safety measures and were provided meals while investigations were carried out.
"We would like to reassure the public that the situation was dealt with professionally by the authorities and no untoward incidents occurred. Malindo Air takes such threats to the well-being and safety of our passengers very seriously," it said in a statement.