Threatening Man With Box Cutters Causes Frontier Flight Diversion

Threatening Man With Box Cutters Causes Frontier Flight Diversion

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A Frontier Airlines flight diverted after a man with two box cutters became aggressive and threatening toward others. By all accounts it sounds like this ended about as well as it could have, thanks to the teamwork between the crew and passengers.

Box cutters cause Frontier Airlines flight to divert

This incident happened on the evening of Friday, November 11, 2022, and involves Frontier Airlines flight F91761. The new Airbus A320neo with the registration code N393FR was scheduled to depart Cincinnati (CVG) at 7:12PM, and arrive in Tampa (TPA) at 9:27PM.

After the plane took off, multiple passengers observed a traveler sitting toward the back of the cabin acting erratically. The person who was in the window seat next to this man said that he flashed a box cutter and said “I want to kill or I want to stab people.”

The traveler who was seated in the aisle next to this man also noticed the box cutter, and was afraid for her safety. She reported this to the crew, and the crew sprung into action.

The flight attendants quietly looked for a passenger with police or military training, to trade seats with the woman. At this point a Navy veteran offered to switch seats with the woman (on Veterans Day, no less). Here’s how he described his interaction with the guy who had the box cutters:

“He has a weapon and I don’t know what kind of weapon it is. I said, ‘hey I’m gonna be sitting here from now on,’ and he said ‘no the young lady is gonna be sitting there.’ He got like frantic, and he said ‘oh no!’ Then he got up and went to the back of the plane.”

The situation had been communicated to the pilots, and the decision was made to divert to Atlanta (ATL). However, the diversion wasn’t announced to passengers, in order to try to keep the man with box cutters calm. Rather passengers didn’t realize they were diverting to Atlanta until they were on the ground there, and turned on their phones.

All passengers were told to deplane, through the suspect refused to get off the plane. Eventually he walked toward a flight attendant with his hands in his pockets, at which point another man with a background in law enforcement tackled him.

At this point the FBI and Atlanta Police Department took the man into custody, and the flight was canceled for the evening (I assume the crew had maxed out allowable hours). Passengers were given hotel accommodations, and were flown down to Tampa the next morning.

While passengers had only spotted one box cutter on the man, a search of the suspect by authorities found a second box cutter in his carry-on.

A Frontier Airlines passenger had two box cutters

This incident poses some major security concerns

As many will probably remember, the weapon of choice for hijackers on 9/11 was box cutters. While a lot has changed since then (including reinforced cockpit doors), it’s pretty alarming that someone managed to get two box cutters through security and onto a plane.

This incident is now under investigation by the US Attorney’s Office, as that’s the lead federal agency in this matter. The TSA has also started an internal review of this incident, by viewing CCTV from Cincinnati Airport, and also reviewing airport security processes and operations.

While I’d like to be surprised that someone managed to get through a TSA checkpoint with two box cutters, virtually every test over the years has shown a high failure rate from the TSA when it comes to stopping weapons. I imagine this isn’t the only time that someone has managed to get box cutters through security.

Similarly, we see thousands of guns confiscated by the TSA every year, and one has to wonder how many make it through.

Thank goodness that the crew and passengers worked together to get the plane on the ground safely without anyone being injured. It’s anyone’s guess what this guy’s motives were.

On the plus side, broadly speaking I do think there’s much less of a risk of hijacking than there was in the pre-9/11 era, between reinforced cockpit doors, and crews not cooperating with the demands of hijackers. While someone could no doubt injure others with box cutters, I imagine fellow passengers would take action pretty clearly to restrain someone like that.

Isn’t the TSA supposed to stop box cutters?!

Bottom line

While there are all kinds of unruly passenger incidents nowadays, a diversion on Friday night was on a different level. Passengers overheard a man with two box cutters talking about how he wanted to kill or stab people. The crew sprung into action, got the help of other passengers, and diverted the flight to Atlanta.

While passengers ended up only getting to Tampa the following morning, at least there were no injuries. This is now being investigated, to figure out how the man got through security with two box cutters (I think the answer is pretty obvious — the TSA isn’t good at doing its job).

Kudos to the crew for how this situation was handled, as well as the volunteers who helped keep this traveler under control.

What do you make of this Frontier Airlines box cutter incident?

Conversations (17)
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  1. Santos Guest

    FWIW, NYT reported that one of the box cutters *was* detected; TSA agents simply removed the blade and returned the casing to the guy. The other box cutter was not detected by the full-body scan or x-rays. So, somehow, the actual story of TSA incompetence manages to be worse than you'd originally think.

  2. Eskimo Guest

    C'mon this is America. Let's fix it the American way, 2nd Amendment style.

    Let's defund TSA and put it into NRA. Let everybody bring guns on board. Arming everybody is the answer.

    And shoot everybody who invades your seat under the castle doctrine.
    You go to jail if flying over some states, you get a license to kill over other states.

    Only in America, LOL.

  3. Some Guy Guest

    I inadvertently brought a box cutter through TSA once, recently. Yes, they missed it. It was one of those Home Depot folding carpet knives. I discovered it as I was packing my bag to return home and put t in my checked luggage. I am glad my box cutter did not hurt anyone on the plane while in my carry-on luggage.

  4. iamhere Guest

    How did he get through the security with the box cutter? A Swiss Army knife is not allowed so how could he pass with a box cutter.

  5. dander Guest

    Box cutters can cause a lot of harm. People trying to disarm him could get hurt. I worked in pre board security (now TSA) in the 80's. Its obvious that paying the screeners more and having another form of government interference hasn't made any difference.

  6. Jack Fitzgerald Guest

    TSA should publish what they’ve confiscated. All of it.

    If you’ve booked a flight and have a tooth scraper or cuticle pusher in your bag, and the item is confiscated, and you don’t run from the screener toward an exit while looking over both shoulders, maybe you weren’t plotting a skyjacking after all.

    I don’t know why this flight was diverted. They couldn’t get a box cutter away from the guy? The person...

    TSA should publish what they’ve confiscated. All of it.

    If you’ve booked a flight and have a tooth scraper or cuticle pusher in your bag, and the item is confiscated, and you don’t run from the screener toward an exit while looking over both shoulders, maybe you weren’t plotting a skyjacking after all.

    I don’t know why this flight was diverted. They couldn’t get a box cutter away from the guy? The person next to him had gotten up. Have people in front of and behind him leave their seats and then, “Sir, kindly hand over that hand tool. To avoid more serious consequences.”

    They couldn’t, if necessary, zip tie him?

    Maybe someone on the flight was heading to see or attend to someone dying, contribute a kidney, get married…

    I think the divert crowd just likes exercising their powers.

  7. nomo Guest

    the thing I find most interesting is that the madman used the term 'young lady' to describe his previous seat mate!

  8. Nellie Guest

    I had a manicure piece confiscated in Albuquerque!! But the miss two box cutters. Time for retraining and or suspension.

  9. Angie Guest

    It’s called human error and it will always happen. The Agents looking at those screens see 1000’s of images and process what that image is for each bag in seconds. The X-ray machine I’ve ran on a much smaller scale show all metal in Blue. Now think of your bag: buckles, keys, watches, zippers, fingernail clippers, necklaces, vapes. And it’s a moving picture. Travelers question how it could have been missed? TSA should publish what...

    It’s called human error and it will always happen. The Agents looking at those screens see 1000’s of images and process what that image is for each bag in seconds. The X-ray machine I’ve ran on a much smaller scale show all metal in Blue. Now think of your bag: buckles, keys, watches, zippers, fingernail clippers, necklaces, vapes. And it’s a moving picture. Travelers question how it could have been missed? TSA should publish what they have removed in the past year and then question if they are needed.

    1. S. Guest

      Ridiculous!
      TSA alone, at least visually, have diverted tons of people wanting/thinking of doing bad. Is TSA fun? Hell, no! Do I like it? Hell, no! Has it been useful— absolutely!
      TSA could do a better job. However, TSA could make it impossible to get anything on board but what would need to be done or the amount of things that would need to be banned would have Americans trying to throw another insurrection! People want safety but not give up a damn thing. ‍♂️

    2. Brent Guest

      Have you seen the failure rates of the TSA? Just google it…. Homeland security inspection teams have been doing this for years and it’s commonly 70 - 95 percent failure rates of TSA agents finding prohibited items. That’s gross negligence at the very least… is it the equipment not spotting items, or is it those the TSA hires, or all of the above.

      Either way, what isn’t caught that makes it through is the scary part.

  10. Mak Guest

    So the very basis for the TSA - to prevent people from coming on board planes with box cutters - failed to prevent a guy from getting on a plane with a box cutter. And the disaster that they tell us would result from a guy getting on a plane with a box cutter couldn't happen because of much less intrusive, expensive, and inconvenient security measures such as reinforced cabin doors and so forth.

    So why do we still have the TSA, and why will we always have the TSA?

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      “So why do we still have the TSA, and why will we always have the TSA?”

      Inertia. Bureaucracy. Or both.

    2. FlyerDon Guest

      So what would you replace them with, nothing?

    3. S. Guest

      Exactly!
      People want perfection which is impossible. But TSA HAS made it safer though I don’t like not being able to bring the stuff I want.

      We, Americans, want EVERYTHING but not give up anything. You want it absolutely safe, then give up bring a ton of stuff & wait twice as long as someone goes through everything. Or better yet, no carry-ons. Now a person just has their fists. Safer— . Americans willing, absolutely NOT.
      Get over yourselves people. ‍♂️

    4. Rob Guest

      Just be honest with it, the TSA is just security theater and not any better than what we had pre 9/11 with the private security and basic metal detectors and X-ray machines. The Homeland security inspections prove it. 70-95 percent failure rates at airport checkpoints all over the US (using high tech machines and scanners) and then a high profile incident like this happens. 9/11 hijackers used BOX CUTTERS…. How is this not just another...

      Just be honest with it, the TSA is just security theater and not any better than what we had pre 9/11 with the private security and basic metal detectors and X-ray machines. The Homeland security inspections prove it. 70-95 percent failure rates at airport checkpoints all over the US (using high tech machines and scanners) and then a high profile incident like this happens. 9/11 hijackers used BOX CUTTERS…. How is this not just another failure of the TSA that can be added to the list since there inception.

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FlyerDon Guest

So what would you replace them with, nothing?

3
dander Guest

Box cutters can cause a lot of harm. People trying to disarm him could get hurt. I worked in pre board security (now TSA) in the 80's. Its obvious that paying the screeners more and having another form of government interference hasn't made any difference.

1
Angie Guest

It’s called human error and it will always happen. The Agents looking at those screens see 1000’s of images and process what that image is for each bag in seconds. The X-ray machine I’ve ran on a much smaller scale show all metal in Blue. Now think of your bag: buckles, keys, watches, zippers, fingernail clippers, necklaces, vapes. And it’s a moving picture. Travelers question how it could have been missed? TSA should publish what they have removed in the past year and then question if they are needed.

1
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