plane.jpg5:23 PM: A carry-on bag with a pungent chemical odor on a United Airlines flight scheduled to depart San Francisco International Airport this morning delayed the plane’s takeoff for nearly six hours.

Crewmembers on United flight No. 972 alerted the airport’s Air Traffic Control Tower of the bag at about 10:40 a.m., about 30 minutes after the plane was scheduled to depart for Chicago, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said.

The plane was relocated to a secure, remote area and the passengers and crew were removed while San Francisco Fire Department hazardous materials and explosive ordinance teams investigated the plane.

The owners of the bag did not speak English well enough to explain what was in the bag, and after interviewing three passengers–including two who apparently owned the bag–and searching the aircraft, investigators determined the plane was safe, McCarron said.

Passengers were allowed back onboard the plane at about 2 p.m., and the aircraft was scheduled to depart at 3:45 p.m.

No one was arrested or detained as a result of the incident.

3:42: A United Airlines flight that was halted just before takeoff at San Francisco International Airport today after a suspicious bag was spotted onboard has been deemed safe, an airline spokeswoman said.

The Chicago-bound plane, United flight No. 972, was taxing down the runway shortly after 10 a.m. when crewmembers noticed the suspicious bag, airline spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said.

The crew notified authorities, who instructed the plane to turn around. It was taken to a secure location at SFO where the passengers were removed and the plane searched.

Around 2 p.m. the aircraft was cleared and released back to United, and passengers re-boarded the plane, McCarthy said.

1:42 PM: Police have halted a United Airlines plane at San Francisco International Airport this afternoon and are examining the aircraft, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said.

United flight No. 972, which was scheduled to depart SFO at 10:12 a.m. for Chicago, is being re-screened. All of the passengers have been removed from the plane for the police investigation, according to McCarron.

McCarron said he didn’t know why the plane was being re-screened.

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