The bomb threat came 45 minutes into the flight bound for Panama City out of Pearson airport on Friday.
A man identified as Ali Shahi, one of 183 passengers on the Sunwing plane, was agitated, angry over an expensive purchase of cigarettes from the duty-free shop.
The 25-year-old man began ripping apart magazines and the safety card from the pouch in front of his seat, grabbing at the window shade to pull it down, said Sunwing officials.
The Mississauga resident is then alleged to have uttered “a direct threat against the aircraft,” serious enough that the flight attendant who overheard it alerted the captain and the plane turned around.
An hour after the Boeing 737 landed at Pearson, at least six tactical officers stormed the jet, repeatedly yelling at passengers “heads down, hands up.” As they ran past, one officer stayed up front pointing his gun.
Shahi was removed from the plane.