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Flight-diverting safety threat proves strictly ornamental

ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando, Fla.-bound Northwest Airlines flight from Detroit was diverted to Nashville, Tenn., on Friday after a suspicious item was discovered aboard the plane. The item: a Christmas ornament.

“A suspicious item was found, and out of an abundance of caution, the pilot decided to divert to Nashville,” said Delta Air Lines spokesman Carlos Santos, whose company recently acquired Northwest. “Fortunately it turned out to be a harmless article.”

The flight landed in Nashville, and passengers got off the plane before the item was identified as a harmless ornament, Santos said. The plane, which had 75 passengers and five crew members, eventually arrived in Orlando about three hours later than scheduled.

Santos could not say Friday what exactly led to the “abundance of caution.” He did not describe what the ornament looked like or whether it was returned to a passenger.

The incident came one week after a man flying from Nigeria to Amsterdam, Netherlands, and then to the United States on a Northwest flight, tried to ignite an explosive as the plane prepared to land in Detroit.

Santos could not say whether that incident influenced the decision of the pilot involved in Friday’s diverted flight.

The diversion was made “to ensure passenger safety,” he said.