Chinese Herbs Delay Flight for 6 Hours

Odor in carry-on bag sends plane back to gate

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    TK
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    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10: A United Airlines airplane taxis down the runway December 10, 2002 at JFK International airport in New York City. United Airlines and its parent company UAL have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

    Chinese herbs were no relief for a plane full of people trying to get to Chicago Tuesday. Passengers heading to the Windy City from the City by the Bay got an extra long wait at the airport Tuesday due to the herbals' odors.

    The United Airlines flight was scheduled for a 10 a.m. takeoff. But when the Boeing 757 was taxiing to the runway, a flight attendant noticed a "pungent chemical odor" coming from a bag on board. The elderly couple who owned the bag did not speak English fluently.

    The smell was enough to alert officials, who had the pilot move the plane to a remote are of the airport. The passengers were evacuated and taken back to the airport, where they were rescreened. Hazardous material and explosives teams from the San Francisco Fire Department searched the plane, along with a TSA dog.

    Investigators did not find anything suspicious on the plane or passengers and determined the strange smell came from the Chinese herbs in the carry-on bag.

    The flight was cleared for takeoff at 4:10 p.m. No charges are expected in the case.