A woman arrested over a mid-air "passenger disturbance" on a US-bound flight from Heathrow which forced the pilot to declare a security emergency was carrying banned items, US officials confirmed yesterday.
There were conflicting reports about what Catherine Mayo had in her handbag on Wednesday after United Airlines flight 923 was forced to divert to Boston.
Yesterday, as 59-year-old Mayo, from Vermont, was due to appear in court charged with interfering with a flight
crew, Boston FBI spokes-woman Gail Marcinkiewicz said she had been carrying hand lotion, a screwdriver, matches and an unspecified number of cigarette lighters.
Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Ann Davis said lighters and hand lotion were banned. Screwdrivers under seven inches long have been allowed on flights to the US since December. Certain types of matches are prohibited and passengers are not allowed to carry more than four books of normal matches.
The FBI and the TSA said the incident was not terror-linked.
Ms Marcinkiewicz added: "The items in her handbag are not related to the incident on the plane. The incident on the plane was the reason it was put down."
According to an affidavit, Mayo passed several notes to crew members, urinated on the cabin floor and made comments the crew believed were references to al Qaida and the September 11 attacks.
Mayo allegedly talked about being in Pakistan and made remarks the crew believed were about building a bomb.
FBI Special Agent Daniel Choldin's affidavit said flight attendants noticed Mayo about 90 minutes into the flight because she was pushing against the aircraft bulkhead.
When an attendant told her to return to her seat, Mayo allegedly said she wanted to speak to an air marshal and made statements about knowing that people wanted to see what was in her bag.
Mayo "appeared very agitated" and was "biting her fingers, rubbing her feet".