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Woman claims to have bomb in bag after missing flight

Helen Coffey
The bomb hoax took place at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A woman allegedly said there was a bomb in her checked luggage after she arrived at the gate too late to catch her flight.

The passenger, identified by police as 53-year-old Hope L. Webber, was attempting to board an American Airlines flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake City, Utah.

She allegedly mentioned an explosive device when staff refused to let her through, resulting in the bomb squad being called and part of one concourse being evacuated.

Ms Webber made claims “related to an explosive device”, Sgt. Mercedes Fortune, a police spokeswoman, told AP.

However, no device was found, and Ms Webber was arrested on suspicion of false emergency reporting and making a false terrorism report.

A spokesperson for American Airlines told The Independent: “On 24 January, American Airlines requested police to meet flight AA648 prior to departure.”

Fellow passenger Katie Hinsen claimed Webber’s behaviour was borne out of “white privilege”.

She shared her experience on social media, tweeting: “My travel to Sundance Film Festival has been delayed because of a privileged white lady who pulled some s***. Plane was closed and about to leave when woman approached the gate.

“She’d been chilling in the lounge and missed her flight. Was told she would be on the next one her bag would meet her in SLC. She was NOT HAVING IT. She’s apparently an elite member and frequent flier. She demanded her bag be taken off the plane or she be let on. She was told ‘no’. Someone wasn’t used to being told no.”

According to Ms Hinsen, the woman threatened gate staff, who refused to budge.

“She had one move left. She knew it would work. She mustered all her drama and said the words ‘there’s a bomb in my bag’,” tweeted Hinsen.

She added that the woman’s bag was taken off the plane, the bomb squad were called in to do a sweep and part of the terminal was evacuated.

“She thought having her bag on the same flight as her was more important than the 100-something other folks with places to be,” finished Ms Hinsen. “The family missing a funeral. The folks missing career ops at @sundance.

“I hope she goes on a no-fly list.”

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