Passenger put on No Fly List for using iPad

Think only suspected terrorists and hardened criminals end up on the government’s infamous No Fly List? Well you best mind your manners on your next flight – in these days of heightened airline security, all it takes to end up in hot water is some seriously obnoxious passenger behavior and an iPad. According to a recent story on Jalopnik, an air traveler en route from Chicago to New York’s LaGuardia landed himself in trouble for refusing to turn off his beloved Apple device (and repeatedly pissing off the flight crew).

The trouble started when the flight pulled back from the gate, a period during which passengers are required to turn off any electronic devices. The offending passenger ignored multiple requests from the flight staff to turn off his shiny iPad, instead choosing to remark, “Wait, so you mean that if my iPad is on, the entire plane can’t take off? I had no idea I had so much power!”

The trouble did not end there. Once the flight had taken off, said passenger asked to be served alcohol and was rebuffed by an understandably annoyed crew. This led to a further heated arguments and eventually, a lecture from the captain himself. Upon landing in New York, the passenger was met by police, who were waiting at the gate to arrest the man. A flight attendant from the plane confirmed the angry flyer’s name was also being added to the No-Fly list for his coarse behavior.

Air travel often sucks these days. Passengers understandably lose patience. But if you think unfavorable conditions give you the right to preferential treatment, think again. Being a jerk on a plane is no different than being a jerk on the ground. You just lose the privilege of flying along with it.

[Photo courtesy Flickr user Rego Korosi]

Man ignites small bomb on U.S. bound plane

A Nigerian man is under arrest after igniting a bomb on a plane bound for Detroit yesterday.

Abdul Mudallad, 23, used a powder strapped to his leg mixed with a syringe containing some sort of liquid to set off a small explosion on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam as it made its final descent into Detroit.

While the mixture did explode, the explosion was very small and the ensuing flames only harmed Mr. Mudallad, giving him third-degree burns on one leg. Passengers quickly tackled him. None of the other 278 passengers or 11 crew were injured. One passenger described the explosion as a “little pop”. The flames needed to be put out with a fire extinguisher.

President Obama has ordered increased security for air travel and the Department of Homeland Security has added extra screening measures.

The bomber was on a U.S. government database for having “a significant terrorist connection” although that did not qualify him for the “no-fly” list. Why someone with a significant terrorist connection can fly on a U.S. airline will doubtlessly be a major question in coming days.

Under questioning after the incident, Mr. Mudallad claimed he has connections with Al-Qaeda and got the chemicals for his bomb in Yemen.

Some reports state Mr. Mudallad is a student of University College London, but a search of the university’s online directory did not reveal his name. The directory, however, only lists students and faculty who have publicly available contact information.

UPDATE, Dec. 27 1242GMT: This post was made shortly after the incident occurred and was correct according to the latest reports at that time. Two details have emerged that should be addressed. The man’s name is now said to be Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and University College London states that he was a mechanical engineering student, but he is not currently enrolled. I felt it was best not to change the original post, as it is now of historic interest in showing how breaking news stories can change fundamentally over time, but since two later posts link to this one I felt I should update the name and university status. More details will doubtless emerge and be covered in later posts.

No Fly List Exposed

CBSAnother CBS News piece I missed for who knows what reason, but they’ve got a pretty good summary of what went down in the program. In a very interesting episode of 60 Minutes, correspondent Steve Kroft goes over the very sloppy and inaccurate No Fly government list that can detain fliers for hours and create a ton of unnecessary hassle for the innocent or unlikely terrorist. For starters the “No Fly” list is part of a secret government database compiled after 9/11 to keep all the bad frequent fliers from flying so frequently or at all. In all seriousness, it is supposed to prevent suspected terrorists from boarding planes, but after managing to obtain a copy of the extra, extra secret list – 60 Minutes uncovers and exposes some major flaws. For instance 14 of the 19 9/11 hijackers who have been dead for five years are still on the list. Shocking? Not to some… When Kroft questioned Donna Bucella, who has run the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center since 2003, her response was:

“Well, just because a person has died doesn’t necessarily mean their identity has died. People sometimes carry the identity of those who have died.”

Okay, Bucella has a point with that one, but a good one? I don’t think so – what moron would assume the identity of a known terrorist? Moving along, also found on the list is Saddam Hussein, convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, Francois Genoud (Nazi sympathizer and financier of Arab terrorism, deceased for ten years now), Evo Morales (president of Bolivia) and to make a long list of flaws short last, but not least comes Robert Johnson. Poor, poor Robert Johnson – when 60 Minutes brought in 12 men, all named Robert Johnson to discuss the topic, all had some trouble boarding planes at one point or another. With a name as common like that, I think Jaunted finds the only possible solution to beating the hassle in their No Fly rant. Their solution – change your name to Bobby Johnny. Sounds a lot like Ricky Bobby to me.

As far as I know I’m not on the list, but I’d love to hear some first hand accounts. Any Gadling readers out there wrongly on the rotten No Fly List? Please, share.