Prayer Box Confused for Dangerous Device on Plane - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Prayer Box Confused for Dangerous Device on Plane

Teen praying on plane accidentally seen as a danger

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mistaken Tefillin Forces Planes Into Emergency Landing

    A Kentucky-bound plane was forced to make and emergency landing Thursday when a flight attendant thought that a teen's tefillin was some sort of terrorist device. (Published Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010)

    A Jewish teenager who was praying on a plane and wearing a religious object made one of the flight crew members so nervous the plane was diverted to land immediately at Philadelphia International Airport Thursday morning.

    The airport went into Emergency Response mode for what turned out to be a big cultural misunderstanding.

    The 17-year-old was wearing Tefillin -- a Jewish religious object that has two boxes attached to leather straps that go around the head and arm.

    One of the flight crew was alarmed. Police said she had no idea what it was and even though the teen tried to explain he was just saying his morning prayers, the pilots decided to take no chances.

    Tefillin Causes Emergency Landing

    [PHI] Tefillin Causes Emergency Landing
    Who would've thought that a 17-year-old boy's Jewish prayer could lead to an emergency landing on a US Airways flight at Philly International? Police say there was no threat at any time. So does the grandmother.
    (Published Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010)

    The US Airways Express plane -- operated by Chautauqua Airlines -- was flying from LaGuardia to Louisville, Ky. when the crew radioed in to the tower at Philadelphia International explaining the circumstances and asking to land.

    All 18 passengers -- except for the teen -- were evacuated.

    The bomb squad, anti-terrorism squad, FBI and TSA all swarmed in.

    They searched the plane and found nothing out of the ordinary. And when they interviewed the teenager, they figured out quickly that there was no threat at all.

    The whole thing seemed to just be a major misunderstanding, the FBI said.

    The teen was with his younger sister, who was so distraught she was crying. The siblings were simply on a visit to see their grandmother.

    "They are religious kids they say their morning prayers," said the grandmother.

    The rest of the passengers went on to Kentucky on another flight. The boy and his sister eventually boarded a later flight to Kentucky on Thursday afternoon.