This has to be the story of the decade (fine, we’re less than two weeks into it, but whatever). A Hawaiian Airlines flight was diverted back to Portland and escorted by two F15 military jets. Why? A passenger handed the flight attendant a comment card that he assumed was going to management. Unfortunately it was perceived as threatening.
So, what exactly did the note say? Citing the court’s proceedings, Fox 12 of Portland, Ore., says the card – in part – read: “I hope we don’t crash and burn,” and “What if the plane ripped apart in mid-flight and we plumited (sic) to earth, landed on Gilligan’s Island and lived through it.”
First of all let me say this in on uncertain terms — this guy is an idiot. He claims it was a “joke” and written to “kill time.” Not sure if that helps his case either. The AP says he might have been “angling for frequent flyer miles,” which may very well land him in prison for up to 20 years or with a $250,000 fine. Someone needs to teach him that there are easier ways to get compensation from airlines. 😉
At the same time, unless he actually seemed threatening (beyond the note), the reaction seems like a bit of an overkill. Two F15 jets? Seriously? I doubt we would have seen the same reaction pre-9/11.
On a different note, the first officer was talking with the gate agent in the galley before a flight this past weekend, and loudly used the word “hijack” followed by much laughter. The air marshal seated in seat 1B wasn’t entertained.
(Tip of the hat to Sam)