Here is our weekly recap of what is happening in airports and in the sky:
Mount Isa – A small airport in Queensland, Australia made headlines this week after a Qantas 767 jet was forced to make an emergency landing due to a suspicious odour on-board. Qantas flight 825 was enroute from Darwin to Brisbane when passengers and crew complained of a “strange smell” wafting from the front of the cabin. Qantas procedures dictate that the plane land as soon as possible. Being a small airport, Mount Isa didn’t even have stairs high enough to reach the aircraft door, so passengers had to be removed from the plane in a cage by a forklift, five at a time, in a process that took two hours. A replacement plane had to be sent while the smelly jet was inspected. In the end, rather than finding a security threat or damaged mechanical bits, officials found a dirty diaper that had been stuck in one of the plane’s toilets.
Los Angeles – Leigh van Bryan and Emily Bunting received a “Welcome to America” they will never forget. The two had been flagged as potential terrorist threats after Bryan tweeted “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?” Destroy is British slang for party! Once their flight landed they were held by Homeland Security on suspicion of planning to commit crimes. They had their passports confiscated and were placed in a cell with a Mexican drug dealer for 12 hours. Looks like we will have to watch what we Tweet, because Homeland Security is watching! Read the entire bizarre story on the Daily Mail site.
Lots of TSA news this week:
New York City LaGuardia – An apparent lack of communication between baggage screeners was responsible for a security scare this week. Officials said a screener spotted a suspicious-looking item in a carry-on bag, tested it for explosives and found it did not pose a threat. It was determined to be a homeopathic medical device that could be mistaken for pipe bombs. When workers on the next shift saw the item, they couldn’t figure out what it was — and called the bomb squad. The TSA says that the Port Authority bomb squad was called “out of an abundance of caution.”
Newark - On the other hand, six baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport have been suspended for failing to follow procedures and sleeping during their shifts.
New York City JFK – Another sticky fingered TSA staffer has been caught stealing from a traveller. This time, a security officer at JFK Airport has been arrested on suspicion of stealing $5,000 cash from a traveller’s jacket as it passed through the scanner conveyor belt. According to a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and the New Jersey police force, surveillance video showed Alexandra Schmid taking the money from a jacket pocket, wrapping the cash in a plastic glove and taking it to a bathroom. The money has not yet been recovered; Schmid is suspected of having passed it on to someone else in the bathroom. The 31-year-old Schmid was arrested on a charge of grand larceny and suspended pending an investigation.
Los Angeles (again)- An insulin pump mistaken for a gun at LAX led officials to delay boarding and screening as airport authorities searched for the woman who they thought had a weapon. It all started when a female passenger went through electronic screening, which detected an item shaped like a weapon. However, before screeners could search her, she walked away toward the boarding gates. Seems strange! I alway get barked at if I even move two feet without permission to proceed. TSA officials immediately alerted LAX police and the LAPD of a possible security breach. When the woman was found, she was briefly detained and questioned before they discovered the “gun” was actually an insulin pump.
In Other News:
- Colorado Springs – A pilot landed his single engine Cessna on its belly after the aircraft’s wheels failed to come down. The pilot is fine.
- Paine Field – Not so lucky… An airport worker was seriously hurt when he was run over by a jumbo jet. The ground worker was pinned under the landing gear of a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 while the dreamliner was being towed. He is being treated for serious leg injuries.