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Flight delayed after passenger becomes suspicious of equation

Arjen

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Time for an intelligence test for aircraft passengers?
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36240523
An Italian economist says his flight was delayed after a fellow passenger saw him working on a differential equation and alerted the cabin crew.

Guido Menzio was taken off and questioned by agents who did not identify themselves, after the woman next to him said she felt ill.

He showed them what he had been writing and the flight eventually took off - more than two hours late.

Mr Menzio told the Washington Post that the pilot seemed embarrassed.

He wrote on Facebook that the experience was "unbelievable" and made him laugh.

The University of Pennsylvania associate professor boarded the Philadelphia-Syracuse flight on Thursday on his way to Ontario, where he was due to give a lecture.

Before the flight took off, the woman sitting next to him passed a note to a member of the cabin crew.

She initially told them she was feeling unwell but then voiced her suspicions about Mr Menzio's scribblings.

He wrote: "It's a bit funny. It's a bit worrisome.

"The lady just looked at me, looked at my writing of mysterious formulae, and concluded I was up to no good.

"Because of that an entire flight was delayed."

He told Associated Press that the crew should have run additional checks before delaying take-off.

He said: "Not seeking additional information after reports of 'suspicious activity' is going to create a lot of problems, especially as xenophobic attitudes may be emerging."

American Airlines, whose regional partner Air Wisconsin was operating the flight in question, said the crew followed protocol to take care of an ill passenger and then to investigate her allegations. It was established that they were not credible.

The woman was re-booked on a later flight.
 

AeroFranz

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The irony of deplaning a flight because of the threat of math...the thing that allowed man to create safe flying machines in the first place.
Sad, but unsurprising. Integrals, sines and cosines might as well be Arabic for most people.
 

Rickshaw

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I wonder what she thought the Economist was doing or how his solving of a math equation was going to affect the flight (in real time)?
 

TomS

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I suspect she thought differential equations were Arabic (and that anyone writing Arabic must be a terrorist).
 

Artie Bob

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Please note that if the economist was doing any numeric calculations, he was most likely using Arabic numerals, very suspicious to one who is math illiterate and generally uninformed.

Best Regards,

Artie Bob
 

AeroFranz

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The lesson here is clear: if you're a scientist, an accountant, or if you just know algebra, make sure no one finds out. For good measure, bring a copy of People magazine and make sure to loudly ask your neighbors what they think of the latest Kardashian gossip.
 

Orionblamblam

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After all the screaming about this story, these are the important bits:

Guido Menzio was taken off and questioned by agents who did not identify themselves, after the woman next to him said she felt ill.

...
She initially told them she was feeling unwell but then voiced her suspicions about Mr Menzio's scribblings.
...
American Airlines, whose regional partner Air Wisconsin was operating the flight in question, said the crew followed protocol to take care of an ill passenger and then to investigate her allegations. It was established that they were not credible.

So, one passenger was unwell and reacted oddly to math. The unwell passenger made some sort of fuss and the cabin crew DID THEIR JOBS. There is no blame here that seems to go any further than the one passenger who may have been loonie.
 

TomS

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The question is, why does it take nearly 2 hours to figure this out. It should be a matter of five minutes
to determine that the "sick" passenger was making an unfounded allegation. There was no reason for Mr. Menzio to have been removed from the plane or interviewed by law enforcement personnel.
 

AeroFranz

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Reading several accounts of the incident, i think the sequence of events was that the lady was fine until she got in her head that the guy next to her was a terrorist. Her "illness" was an excuse to get the crew's attention and get herself out of the doomed airplane after fulfilling her duty of "see something-say something".
I don't think she was ill to start with and in her confused state got her wires crossed and due to her condition made a totally wrong but understandable mistake. Believe me, for the sake of the future of the human race, i wish that was the case.
As for the crew, they probably acted according to the procedure, but it seems like there should be a procedure in place that does not delay a planeload for two hours when, even assuming you have to bring in security people for added safety, the whole farce could have been sorted out in fifteen minutes. No doubt if something of the sort happens again, airlines will act to speed up things, i can't imagine they made much money on that flight if people missed their connections.
 

riggerrob

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Did they publish the name of the "Karen" who created the fuss?
 

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