Panama’s national police shared details of the mistake on X, formerly known as Twitter, posting: “The Special Forces units activated the emergency protocol, and verified it turned out to be a disposable adult diaper.”
The statement said that police were alerted by the local civil aviation authority of “a foreign object on an airline,” alongside pictures of the offending item on top of a black plastic bag.
Passengers had to disembark at Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport while authorities did a full sweep of the plane to check for explosives.
The nappy was found in one of the aircraft toilets, Jose Castro, the airport’s head of security, confirmed to the Associated Press.
“We had it on a secure runway where police special explosives canine units and special forces examined the object, and found it to be an adult diaper, ruling out any risk,” he said.
It’s not the first time a bomb scare on a plane has scuppered travel plans.
In July this year, a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Maui was diverted after a passenger used Apple’s AirDrop feature to send threatening images to fellow travellers and imply there was a bomb on the plane.
The flight departed from Vegas at 9.21am, 3 July, but was forced to make the U-turn to Oakland just an hour into the flight as passengers were alerted to “mechanical issues”.
Passenger Valerie Maluchnik, who was travelling on the flight with her 15-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son, said she thought they were all going to die.
“In my mind, I’m like, ‘Is this thing going down?’ and then it just kind of spiralled from there,” she told Insider, adding that she overheard a flight attendant repeatedly muttering, “Get me the f*** off this plane.”
“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is it. This is the end for me and my kids’,” she said.