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Police: Mystery man at airport was likely off-duty pilot

November 20, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An unidentified person spotted Thursday on a Jetway connecting a JetBlue plane with a Los Angeles International Airport terminal likely was an off-duty pilot scheduled to catch a courtesy flight to New York, authorities said.

A worker at LAX spotted the person around 6 a.m. but apparently did not see a security clearance badge. The JetBlue plane was towed as a precautionary measure from Terminal 3 to a remote area of the airfield and later was cleared for takeoff following a search, airport police Officer Rob Pedregon said.

No travelers were onboard at the time, JetBlue said in a written statement.

Police found that an off-duty pilot was scheduled to ride to New York on JetBlue Flight 24, but instead got on a Virgin America flight to New York after the JetBlue plane was delayed, Pedregon said.

The off-duty pilot later confirmed that he was on the Jetway around 6 a.m., but police weren’t sure that is who the employee saw because the employee worked the overnight shift and was not available Thursday as the investigation unfolded, Pedregon said.

Flight 24 took off after the plane was cleared and all passengers and luggage went through security screening a second time, Pedregon said. It landed more than five hours after it was originally scheduled. Weather problems in New York added to the delay.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the name of the airline is Virgin America, not Virgin American.

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