Federal air marshals mistakenly removed from plane at MSP

Hundreds of planes take off and land at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport every day, but a late night arrival is getting more attention than most after a flight attendant mistook an air marshal for an armed passenger.

Airport officials say around midnight Tuesday a flight attendant on a non-stop United flight from Newark to the Twin Cities reported a person with a gun on board. Once the plane landed, authorities removed that man and another passenger from the flight, handcuffed them and took the men to the airport police station where FBI agents interviewed them. The agency says both men were federal air marshals on official business on that flight. It’s not clear why the flight crew was unaware they were on board.

The TSA released a statement, saying, “Protocols for notification of law enforcement presence aboard an aircraft are in place to avoid incidents like this. TSA is working with the airline to determine the specific circumstances in this case.”

A spokesperson for Republic Airline which operated the flight for United says, "The safety and security of our customers and employees is our top priority. We are aware of this incident and are working with investigators."

For its part, the FBI says it is working with the TSA and the airline on better communication to make sure something like this never happens again.