Air France flight AF55 passengers told diversion was for 'technical reasons'

Passengers aboard Air France flight say everyone remained calm as their plane was diverted to Halifax. They found out it was due to a bomb threat after landing on Tuesday night.

'I found it very hard to imagine I was actually in a plane that was going to blow up'

Irene Rodgers was a passenger, taking the flight to get back to her home in Paris. 2:59

Passengers aboard Air France flight AF55 say everyone remained calm as their plane was diverted to Halifax after a bomb threat Tuesday night. 

The plane with 262 people aboard was on its way from Washington, D.C., to Paris when a threat was phoned into the airline and the plane changed course. After the plane landed police searched the aircraft and found no signs of explosives.

Irene Rodgers was a passenger, taking the flight to get back to her home in Paris.

Passengers from Air France Flight 55 head through the terminal at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Nov. 18, 2015. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

She said at first the flight crew only told passengers that they were landing due to "technical reasons." But given the recent attacks in in France, Rodgers suspected there might be more to the plane's sudden change of course. 

"I found it very hard to imagine I was actually in a plane that was going to blow up," she said. "So I couldn't get my head around that one." 

Despite that fear Rodgers and the other passengers remained calm. 

"Everybody sat in the plane very calmly and I have to say I felt very calm as well, the crew was very calm. People kept sleeping or reading their newspaper."  

One passenger, Gildas Nkamgan, posted a video to Twitter that appears to show the scene on the tarmac as people left the plane, with emergency vehicles nearby. 

Learned threat from smartphones

Passengers found out the real reason why the plane set down in Halifax after they landed. 

Rodgers said that's when people started checking their phones and seeing news reports that two Air France flights had to land due to bomb threats. Only after that did the flight crew tell passengers about the threats.  

The other Air France plane was forced to land in Salt Lake City, Utah, and no bomb was found on that plane either.

Air France flight AF55 sits at the Halifax airport after landing due to a bomb threat. (CBC)

Even after learning about the bomb threats Rodgers says passengers remained calm and waited for the plane to be searched.

She was amazed by the composure of the people sent out to examine the plane.

"I thought about the fireman and the policemen and women who  were out there and I thought about how the crew were the last one's to leave the plane, I thought 'Wow, this is impressive.'"

'Handled really well'

The Canadian Press talked to passenger Ken Silvers, who was also grateful for the work done on the ground in Halifax. 

"I think it was really handled very well , you see all of these people up and around helping us out the best they could, " Silver told the Canadian Press. 

Frank Mather, a 59-year-old who was travelling back to Scotland after visiting a friend in Washington, said he'd rather spend the night in Halifax than risk having an incident over the Atlantic Ocean.
Air France initially said passengers grounded in Halifax would be put on Flight AF4093, which was scheduled to depart Halifax at 7 p.m. AT Wednesday and arrive in Paris at 6 a.m. local time Thursday. However passengers learned Wednesday afternoon that flight was delayed, and is now scheduled to depart at 3:45 a.m. AT Thursday. 

Passengers aboard the the plane that was diverted to Salt Lake City have already continued on their journey. They landed at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris Wednesday afternoon. 

Irene Rodgers said she's not worried that she might have to take the same plane the rest of the way to Paris. 

"I think that plane is the safest aircraft I could be on, so I feel fine." 

With files from The Canadian Press


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