A Norwegian Air passenger forced hundreds of passengers off a flight at a Florida airport after he made a comment about a ‘bomb’... all because he didn’t like his seat.
Flight DI7058 was ready to take off and was closing its doors when other passengers heard the disgruntled man making the inappropriate comments.
The Orlando Police Department responded to the reports before turning the investigation over to the FBI. Remaining passengers were allowed to reboard and the plane finally took off when no bomb or other suspicious items were found, although Norwegian Air confirmed three passengers were not allowed to continue their journey on the flight and that there is now an ongoing investigation.
Threats are not new to airlines or airports, and the industry has been dealing with a seemingly rising number.
When responding to bomb threats, every threat must be taken seriously, regardless of the level of perceived threat. Prior to 9/11, airlines had more discretion to manage it themselves, but that isn’t the case anymore and the Transportation Security Administration need to do their due diligence in case it is to cover a real attack.
Ed Kittel, Chief of the Explosives Operations Division for the US Department of Homeland Security in the State of Alaska, has said that each threat must go through the same evaluation and treatment; irrespective of how small or large, real or fake, it may seem. Each airport and air carrier must also incorporate how to deal with such threats in their emergency response plans.
However, often “threats” are actually hoaxes. Not many bombers actually want attention drawn to what they’re about to do. Bomb threat makers tend to like to be disruptive.
Glenn Woods, a former RCMP criminal profiler, says that the people who usually make these types of threats are generally “in a position of weakness”. It could be upset or former staff, angry customers, mentally ill people, or simply people wanting to pull a prank.
In this Norwegian Air case, just a person who didn’t like his seating arrangement.
It’s not only a serious offence to make threats, it costs airline companies money, and police and government resources.
According to Edward McKeogh, President of Canadian Aviation Safety Consultants, there is a lot to consider when it comes to costs of these types of threats - rerouting flights, deplaning passengers, inspecting the plane, coordinating with traffic control, and how it then affects all future flights that the aircraft needs to make and meeting those flight times and schedules.
For police or Federal agencies to respond, it could include patrol officers, special units, forensics teams, and explosives specialists.
Add that to, it being a very serious federal, criminal offence with potential jail time, and it really isn’t worth it. For anyone.
Flying can be stressful, tiring, and time-consuming, but making unsolicited, false or even joking comments about potential threats to hundreds or thousands of people is not the answer.