Hundreds of passengers have been escorted from a domestic Qantas flight by armed police after a security breach at Sydney airport.
About 200 passengers on Qantas flight QF487 were escorted from the plane late Wednesday when it landed in Melbourne, because a person on board had not been properly screened in Sydney.
The entire flight was escorted by Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police officers through a re-screening in Melbourne.
“Clear, [they had] machine guns and things like that, so everyone was a bit shocked by that,” said Nine Network journalist Patrick Durkin, who was also on board.
“The flight attendant I spoke to said she had never heard of it in her 20 years of flying.”
Passengers were told to follow the security guards and not to stop, not even for a toilet break.
In a statement Thursday morning, Qantas said the problem arose after a passenger “boarded the flight after accidentally moving from an ‘unscreened’ to an ‘screened’ area of the Sydney airport”.
“As a precautionary measure, all passengers of QF487 were escorted from the aircraft when it landed in Melbourne and taken through the screened area of the airport to the unscreened area – to avoid endangering the secure area of the Melbourne terminal, where would require all passengers who had already passed through security to be re-screened,” the airline said.
“We will investigate to understand how this incident occurred and we apologize for any inconvenience caused to passengers on the flight.”
The rescreening delayed at least one other flight, Durkin said.
“They just told us it was considered an unscreened flight… that it was unusual, to tolerate them… that was about all the explanation we got,” he said.