JetBlue Flight Delayed, Evacuated After Someone Shared Image of Suicide Vest Via AirDrop to Apple Devices Onboard

Authorities called back to the gate a Tampa, Florida-bound JetBlue flight as it prepared for takeoff from New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport after passengers reportedly received a message on their mobile phones showing an image of a suicide vest.

According to NBC 4 New York, someone sent the image to flight passengers with Apple devices via the AirDrop app, which allows people to share things through Bluetooth, on Saturday morning. Crew also received the image and alerted the captain.

All 150 passengers were led off the delayed JetBlue flight 573 to allow sniffer dogs on as Port Authority vehicles surrounded the aircraft.

"We pull up to the gate and then we pull away and the captain comes on and says there's been a security threat," Thomas Desmond, a passenger aboard the flight who lives in Riverview, Florida, told WFLA. "It was nervous when you see Port Authority police officers coming onto your plane and you just have no idea what's going on."

Claudio Cruz, a spokesperson for JetBlue, told the North Jersey Record that the flight was "delayed for additional security screenings out of an abundance of caution." Officers from the Port Authority found nothing suspicious on the plane and it eventually departed.

The flight was originally scheduled to depart Newark at 6:10 a.m. but did not leave until 11:27 a.m. when the all-clear had been given, finally arriving in Tampa at 14:01.

A man posted images to Twitter that he said were from his wife, Nikki Morris, a passenger onboard the plane. They show Port Authority vehicles lined up around the plane. Footage posted to Facebook by Morris shows the evacuation of the plane due to an "imminent threat."

The Port Authority and JetBlue did not respond immediately to Newsweek's request for comment.

More pics from Newark and JetBlue Flight 573. These were taken by my wife, Nikki Morris. @CNN @foxnewsalert @jetblue #newark

— theamazingtoby (@theamazingtoby) July 13, 2019

In June, a passenger onboard a Southwest Airlines flight received via AirDrop several sexually explicit photos and a video from a fellow passenger.

The incident occurred as Southwest Flight 1388 was set to takeoff from Chicago to Louisville. Kat Pitman received the first AirDrop message from someone she didn't know just after taking her seat.

"It was just very explicit. It just shocked me," Pitman told USA Today, which reported that the sender's username was an explicit pun on The Hobbit's Bilbo Baggins.

Pitman immediately turned off AirDrop on her Apple device, but switched it back on to take a screenshot of the graphic photo. She received two additional unsolicited messages as she was doing this.

She alerted flight attendants about what was happening: "There was no question. They weren't like, 'What's AirDrop?' They just took care of it."

A flight attendant picked up the phone and broadcast a message for "Mr. Baggins" to stop sending the files: "They continued to check on me during the flight and as I left the flight. I just was incredibly impressed."

JetBlue flight evacuated Newark AirDrop suicide vest
A jetBlue Airways airplane takes off from Newark Liberty Airport on September 30, 2018 as seen from Elizabeth, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images