Lit Matches Prompt Emergency Landing

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By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A jetliner from Washington made an emergency landing Monday in Nashville after passengers smelled matches being struck, a Nashville airport spokeswoman said.

Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for Nashville International Airport, said that a passenger on the Dallas-bound flight, which had originated at Reagan National Airport, had been striking matches to mask evidence of a troubled digestive system.

Lowrance said the pilot of American Airlines Flight 1053 asked at 6:25 a.m. Central time to make an emergency landing in response to passengers' concerns about the matches.

Lighting matches on a plane is prohibited, Lowrance said.

After landing, the 99 passengers and five crewmembers left the plane. Luggage was placed on the ground for dogs to sniff. In one part of the cabin, searchers found signs that matches had been lit.

Under "lengthy questioning" by the FBI, the passenger "did say she had some type of medical condition" that embarrassed her, Lowrance said. "She did admit to striking matches to conceal the odor." The woman was released but was not permitted to reboard the flight, Lowrance said.

The woman, who lives in Texas, was trying to get on another flight and apparently did, Lowrance said.

The woman was not identified.

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