Police Report Reveals How Pathetic Silver Airways’ “Security Policies” Are

Several days ago I shared the story of how Silver Airways called the cops on a 16 year old flying from Fort Myers to Orlando. If you haven’t read the previous post I suggest checking it out, as it has a detailed explanation of what happened. What it boils down to is that he took a few (perfectly normal) pictures, another passenger thought that was suspicious, and then the airline called the cops on him. I should also mention that he made a phone call in Polish, which unfortunately to many people in Florida may qualify as suspicious.

A lot of people said “there has to be more to the story, this is just crazy.” Well, I got my hands on the police report for the incident, and it further supports the story. Unfortunately the reaction on the part of the airline still seems crazy to me, and on the surface it seems like the cop may not have acted within the law (though I’ll leave it to my lawyer readers to share their thoughts).

Here’s the police report:

On Wednesday 3/17./18 at approximately 1700 hours, I responded to gate D9A at the request of the pilot of Silver Airways flight 87 from Fort Myers to Orlando. Upon arrival the pilot shut down the engines and put a sign in the window saying 7A. As soon as the door to the aircraft opened I entered and asked the passenger seated in 7A to exit the plane. The white male, later identified by his student pilot license as [redacted], exited the aircraft without incident. I turned him over to Officer [redacted] and went back on the aircraft to speak with the pilot. I was told that another passenger had seen [redacted] sending a message that she thought was threatening and was concerned.

I then spoke with the female passenger [redacted]. She informed me that she had seen [redacted] sending a text message with big letters saying something about 100 feet and alarms. She voiced concern that he was sitting in the exit row and was worried that he would open the exit door in flight. She voiced her concerns to the flight attendant who informed the pilot resulting in this call.

I then spoke to [redacted] again and he volunteered his phone to me. I was able to observe all of his text messages and emails. When I looked at his snapchat messages I viewed a photo of a Spirit plane that was located at the gate next to his aircraft. The caption read “thanks for the 100f of ramp access Silver Airways” with a smiley face. I showed this picture to [redacted] who said it was the picture and text she had seen. I showed it to the pilot who like me was not concerned in any way by the photo. [redacted] stated he thought there was a safety violation on the ramp with the aircraft and was simply taking a picture of it to report in the future to Spirit.

After speaking with the pilot and providing him with all the information received during my investigation, he informed me that he was waiting to hear back from his corporate security. After a few minutes he allowed [redacted] to board the aircraft and informed me that he would be putting him in a different seat. After a delay of about one and a half hours total, the plane departed with all passengers onboard.

This is beyond ridiculous. First of all, below is the picture in question (clearly referring to his excitement over being on the ramp and so close to planes while boarding, which I think all aviation geeks can appreciate).

Both Silver Airways and the police were completely out of line here, in my opinion.

So the passenger who witnessed something that she thought was suspicious in fact saw completely wrong, yet somehow what she said was taken at face value and the police was called immediately, rather than having the flight attendant first try to handle the situation? Let’s keep in mind what the lady’s claim here was. It’s not that she claims she saw him writing anything incriminating, but rather she saw something with “100 feet and alarms?” Huh?!?

If the other passenger was uncomfortable, they should have given her the option of getting off the plane.

This is beyond ridiculous. It’s bad enough to call the cops based on another passenger claiming they saw something incriminating (since there’s a good chance they saw wrong), but to call the cops based on something you saw incorrectly that isn’t even incriminating? Really? And to put the seat number of the passenger in the window as if you’re dealing with a hostage situation, or something? C’mon!

Then there are several issues with the police. Matt (the 16 year old passenger who was interrogated):

  • Gave the police officer and only the police officer permission to see his phone. The police officer then asked if he could show the captain the picture, which Matt agreed to. Matt only consented for the police officer to show the captain the phone, but the police report indicates that it was shown to the woman who accused him of all of this as well. Is that legal?
  • Has no clue what the officer means regarding him taking the picture so he could report it to Spirit; rather like any aviation geek he just took it because he was excited to be so close to a plane

The worst part is how Silver Airways is handling this after the fact, though. At no point on the flight did they apologize in any way. Matt sent them an email, but they haven’t responded. I emailed Silver Airways’ PR, and they haven’t responded to my inquiry. They did, however, respond to a local news station in Fort Myers, where they issued the following statement:

“The safety and security of everyone on board our flights is our number one priority.  As such, our crew members are trained to take any necessary precautionary measures to protect the safety and security of everyone on board our flights.  When a passenger reported a possible security threat, they advised our crew who in turn followed the proper safety and security procedures and called law enforcement.  The situation was resolved and the flight continued.”

The airline is so arrogant that they won’t even pretend that they’re launching an investigation.

Silver Airways, if your security procedure was followed in this incident, it’s time you revise your procedure. When someone reports something that isn’t even incriminating if accurate, you call the cops?

I can’t say I had strong feelings about Silver Airways prior to this incident, though it’s pretty clear they don’t run an especially professional operation, and I certainly have an unfavorable view of them now.

Matt deserves an apology or at least some acknowledgement from the airline, but he hasn’t even gotten that.

Silver Airways doesn’t seem to do much on social media, though if you think they’re handling this unprofessionally, let them know on their Facebook page. They have some pictures of their planes on there, which seems like a serious security threat to me. Maybe we should let them know so that they can interrogate the people who took those pictures for 90 minutes as well?

Comments

  1. It has come again, the age of neighbors accusing neighbors, just on a flight this time.
    Note to self: if I ever take Silver Airways, never tell anyone about the story of the time I took Emirates to BOMBay.

  2. I contacted Silver with a polite email asking about the situation and how I should handle myself , how to take photos not to cause any possible situation that described here. I sent email on friday and no reply yet, .. their guest relation is [email protected] if anyone would like to ask questions or make comments

  3. Horrible what silver airways did, shame on them, I hope Matt receives some sort of hefty compensation. Will never be flying with them

  4. We’re always told to report things if we see them. Fine. But, I also think that we’re at the point where if a passenger reports something that is totally bogus, that they should be the ones who pay the penalty. Perhaps the woman who reported a text message about “alarms” when none was present should have to compensate the rest of the passengers in some way for their inconvenience?

  5. My second email to silver airlines public relations:

    Hello,

    Thank you for taking my question, I’m thinking to fly out from Fort Myers with Silver Airways in the coming weeks. I’m very active on social media. After reading the public Police report from Wednesday 3/17/18 at approximately 1700 hours, written at the departure of Silver Airways flight 87 from Fort Myers to Orlando, I’m nervous that this will happen with me too.
    May I ask what the exact reason the 16 years old child was removed from the flight and interrogated as the report indicates no valid reason. I also speak foreign language when speaking on phone and do take lots of pictures. If any of above will cause my arrest and/or interrogation with law enforcement, I would rather book ticket with another airlines.
    Thank you again and regards,
    Endre

  6. “he took a few (perfectly normal) pictures, another passenger thought that was suspicious”

    What next? Taking safety card in hands and looking at it (or taking a picture of that) will be suspicious? I mean that “passenger” who found it suspicious must still live in the 19th century.

  7. Lucky, since you are inviting some legal thought I’ll share a few points regarding police and similar confrontation …

    This is highly condensed. As such it hardly advise for any specific event.

    I’ll say first this is not my specialty area, but any attorney has been trained the basic understanding of rights regarding police. The pivitol issue here is that you DO waive many of those rights once you agree to pass TSA security…including much of your 4th amendment rights. There is much more I could say so please don’t interpret that as a comprehensive analysis.

    Now more generic. Here is what one should always remember. Whenever you are asked by authorities if they may search or do something….pause. They will often do this in the most sly manner, “since you aren’t carrying any xyz, you don’t mind if I take a look at abc…”. The question might even be a statement prompting you to reply!

    When you are asked…that’s your signal. If you say yes or anything similar you have just waived your 4th amendment right. Probable cause is no longer required.

    I suggest saying something to the effect that you have taken a class on the 4th amendment and you have been trained to never waive that right…under any circumstance. This provides a respectful approach without giving rise to the officer looking further for probable cause.

    Don’t say yes…if forced to answer or put in a corner, no is generally the safer choice.

    Some colleagues of mine would advise to cooperate. All attorneys are not of the same opinion. In roughly 80-90% of the time I say never waive your right. In the few instances I advise differently it’s generally after purposeful and thoughtful legal counsel.

    At the airport is definitely an area to generally cooperate … as the consequences for denied boarding are much higher. If you resisting you might first ask if such request is necessary in order for you to be permitted to go forward on your journey.

  8. Thanks very much for highlighting this story @Lucky. I’m completely in agreement with your perspective on this one!

  9. @Chad: While Endre is usually less than humble on here (see his/her other comments), I think the point in this instance is to get Silver to provide a response through a seemingly innocuous passenger inquiry that’s somewhat related. They haven’t provided a public statement on the specific issue so this could be a way to have them provide one surreptitiously. I didn’t read it as Endre necessarily feeling entitled to that info.

  10. I don’t get it why they prefer the situation to escalate (end in court maybe?) and keep bringing them bad publicity when they could give him a voucher for a couple of their flights, maybe organize a meeting with pilots and give some souvenirs so that he feels appreciated.

  11. @Jeff Shilling,

    Please expand on exactly which 4th amendment rights you believe are waived by passing through at TSA checkpoint.

    Hint: none

  12. I’m not used to reading police reports, but this one looks pretty clear. The officer was called in about a threat, investigated, and correctly determined that the threat was completely bogus.

    The only iffy bit was showing the phone pic to the paranoid nutbar who reported it. I have no idea how big a deal that is. Is it a case of a person in authority skirting a rule to finish up an investigation that he already knows is a waste of everyone’s time?

  13. @ smallmj — Personally my much bigger issue here is with how Silver Airways handled the investigation and that they chose to call the cops, rather than how the police acted.

  14. I must disagree here. Leaving aside the age and ethnicity of the passenger in question (as one must when considering this set of facts), if the crew for whatever reason feel that they needed to escalate the situation to law enforcement they must do so. The crew did not witness the so-called “suspicious” incident and are relying on a third-party account whose credibility they must subjectively evaluate. Since they were still on ground and therefore had easy access to law enforcement resources who could better make that evaluation, they were best served to refer the situation to those resources.

    Crew and law enforcement seem to have followed their protocols for the most part. The main issue here was the complainant who jumped to conclusions using both a false set of facts AND bad conclusions drawn from those facts. If the complainant’s statement of fact had been accurate (viz. the “suspicious” passenger had indeed sent a message indicating they were planning to open the exit door at altitude), then a referral to law enforcement for further action was indeed the right decision.

    At the end of the interaction, both law enforcement and crew established the true facts (which were in contradiction to those initially stated by the complainant) and accordingly established that no threat existed. The flight continued as planned with the erstwhile “suspicious” passenger on board.

    The fault here lies purely with the complainant and not with how LE or crew handled the situation with the information available to each at the time.

  15. Props to this kid (hehe).

    I would have flipped for being so wrongly accused. I just can’t see myself remaining calm after being let back on the plane. I get so infuriated just thinking about it and it didn’t even happen to me.

    I’m like a lot of others. I like to take pics, especially at the airport. I love planes, and I love being close to them. I think it’s good to know if an airline is going to call the cops on me for taking a picture, because I would make sure to avoid them.

  16. I’m going to take a contrarian view of this…

    A Passenger thought they saw a threatening note. They told a flight attendant (good). The flight attendant decided he/she wasn’t qualified to investigate for whatever reason and called in the police (good). The responded and investigated (good). The investigation determined that it was all a misunderstanding (good). Everyone went on with their lives (good).

    I don’t see a single pathetic security policy in here… on the contrary, I don’t think flight attendants are well equipped to investigate security issues, and I don’t see any reason to ask them to do so while the plane is still on the ground.

    The police being called in to investigate is not a punishment in and of itself–sometimes misunderstandings just happen and they’re nobody’s fault, but a little investigation is necessary. Nobody got beat up. Nobody got arrested. The fact that the police came to the right conclusion, managed to clear everything up, and everybody got on with their lives seems like a perfectly good outcome to me in this situation.

    You can question the motives of the passenger who reported the note, I guess, but it doesn’t sound like anything happened in bad faith there, to me. So really what would we hope to happen differently here? (And again, flight attendents aren’t police officers. Expecting them to confront people about security issues, and all the risks that go with that, is a *huge* ask.)

  17. @Pete: “So really what would we hope to happen differently here?” If you read Lucky’s original post the problem was less with the crew’s decision-making and more with how they treated the passenger like garbage even though he didn’t do anything wrong. Their attitude placed the blame on the flight’s delay on the passenger and they verbally disrespected him and made him feel even worse and more embarrassed. They could have handled the exact same situation much better if they showed some empathy and understanding to the passenger. The last two bullet points of Lucky’s original assessment are key:

    >After that much questioning, the crew yelled for him to get back on the plane so he doesn’t “hold up the plane even more”
    >The flight attendant shouted “you sit here now,” so Matt and his sister had to sit in the first row within sight of the flight attendant for the entire flight

    And on a broader point, there IS something wrong with the process if a single passenger’s suspicion can lead to police being called. That is not a normal or good state for society to be in and reflects an unnecessary level of paranoia in flight security post 9/11 that is leading to very negative situations on a regular basis. The level of suspicion of others in the U.S. is really off-putting and betrays a high degree of insecurity.

  18. I am a little surprised Lucky…

    1) you support a culture of “see something, say something”

    2) you don’t support a culture of flight attendants or unofficial security acting in the capacity of law enforcement (e.g. UAL)

    So I have to agree with Pete above… I don’t see much wrong here.

    The issue is not what was done, but HOW it was done. That is a issue of airline and police civility. And is a police issue of showing the image to the concerned passenger, not an airline issue.

    So procedurely, I don’t understand your recommendation of having a flight attendant deal with this? Is it his/her job to go through his phone and determine if the situation is threatening? I agree.. given the age and nature of the images… probably could have been de-escalated. But then again, I don’t think you are for profiling.. racially or by any other demographic. I am just trying to play the scenario out…. It was handled poorly, but the procedure was quite solid.

  19. @Pete, you say that everything worked out fine, especially since:

    “The investigation determined that it was all a misunderstanding (good). Everyone went on with their lives (good).”

    The problem is the investigation took all of 90 minutes, the kid (a minor, btw) was singled out and separated from her sister, he got a public dressing down, was further humiliated by being sat in a different seat when back on board, and (according to his account) was audibly told by crew not to “hold up the plane even more” and to “sit here now,” as you would do to punish a child for having done something wrong.

    So the investigation took too long, at least from a common sense perspective, the kid was publicly humiliated and, instead of vindicating him or at least audibly apologising to the boy, the crew did the exact opposite. To say that “everyone went on with their lives (good)” seems a bit of an overstatement to me.

    Just my 2¢.

  20. @Mike

    If all facts are as presented, then I agree there’s no excuse for the crew treating him that way.

    I guess I’m taking issue specifically with the idea that “pathetic” security policies are to blame. Or that anything even wen’t wrong the the security policies. If the crew were rude or disrespectful, I wouldn’t call that a security policy issue.

    “And on a broader point, there IS something wrong with the process if a single passenger’s suspicion can lead to police being called.”

    We have *no idea* what the suspicious passenger told the flight attendant, or thought she saw. (We’ve already established that the police report is not a reliable narrator, sadly.) Surely you’ll concede there are plenty of things a passenger could report to a flight attendant that could merit immediate police investigation? And again, the police are called out to investigate these things because they are equipped to investigate them, not to punish someone for simply being under suspicion.

  21. @ Charles — I respect where you’re coming from. Maybe I didn’t express the core of my issue correctly. I’m not suggesting that a flight attendant should carry out a full-on investigation themselves, but rather that they should use their best judgment to determine the risk level. According to the police report, the passenger told the flight attendant that she saw something “with big letters saying something about 100 feet and alarms.” Does that even sound like a threat that’s worth acting on to anyone?

    The reason I take issue with this is because it reminds me so much of all the Muslims who have flown US airlines and been profiled by other passengers and deemed as risks. A couple of years back we heard a story about that every week.

    So I guess to reverse the question, do you think those situations were warranted, where Muslims were taken off planes because passengers heard them speak in a foreign language and assumed they had bad intentions? To what degree should flight attendants investigate and form their own opinions prior to removing people?

    Lastly, at a minimum I think the airline owes Matt an apology. He clearly did *nothing* wrong and was humiliated, regardless of whether you perceive the process as correct or not. At a minimum saying “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding” seems warranted, no?

  22. I must disagree as well, echoing SeanM and Pete. Sure, the complainant was wrong, but she thought she saw suspicious messages and given that Matt was an exit row, I can’t blame her for speaking up if she was unsure or in any way felt threatened. Also keep in mind not everyone flies so much!

    I also agree it made far more sense for the FA to call law enforcement rather than attempt to deal with it on his/her own!

    What people keep glossing over is that Matt wasn’t targeted just for taking pictures. It was that the complainant believed she saw him sending a suspicious message. Huge difference there.

    I do agree though that Matt deserves an apology for the inconvenience, not because I think Silver handled the incident improperly but just because that is human decency.

  23. I don’t fault the cops. They got a report, were called out, and did an investigation just like they’re required to. We may quibble over how long it took, but they got called out and responded like they’re supposed to. As for showing the complainant the actual photo, I tend to think it was really the cop along the lines of, “Really? You saw this and thought it was a threat? Really?” Then, under his breath, “Dumba*s.”

    I do fault the airline in general for treating the kid like a criminal, changing his seat, and acting like your basic tool.

  24. @Pete you miss the points about his age, and his speaking polish which apparently is a suspicious language. I speak multiple languages (I know, I’m unamerican) the woman had no context and wasn’t seeing actual threatening behavior. That’s really poor on her part. She should be ashamed of herself for pointing blame when her igorance and xenophobia is to blame. Falsely calling the cops is harassment. And if you think otherwise, try having a stalker call the cops on you for something you didn’t do. It’s never fun to deal with cops, even when you didn’t do anything. Ignoring the actual situation, of course what was done was good, but interrogating people needlessly reeks of the Soviet Union. You’re leaving out the child and the xenophobia. Those are salient points.
    This could have been much worse and it’s great that it wasn’t. Imagine if they had been speaking Farsi or Arabic.
    I would like to see people learn how to think about context and learn more damn languages so that you could have an idea of what was polish as opposed to say, a language from a country that threatens us. American critical thinking skill are amongst the worst in the developed world so being aware that we have a handicap from our poor educational system is a good place to start.

  25. The passenger who reported him and the airline are definitely at fault here, but I think you’re reaching a little to blame the police officer. Matt “Has no clue what the officer means regarding him taking the picture so he could report it to Spirit; rather like any aviation geek he just took it because he was excited to be so close to a plane.” So what? The officer understood the picture was not a threat and acted accordingly. There’s no constitutional right to have the police take the time to understand the exact nature of your aviation geek interest. As far as showing the picture to the passenger, a) I don’t think there’s any illegality there, and b) showing the passenger that she was wrong and that the picture was not in any way a threat probably helped to resolve the situation.

  26. @Sean M

    I actually don’t believe that you can leave aside the race of the passenger in question. In the previous thread about this incident you made it very clear that you didn’t care about what happened because the passenger was white. Are you now trying to come up with the non-racist justification of your position?

  27. PSA. This site bans comments by IP address. My comments from home no longer show up, but they do if I post from work.

  28. I think the BIGGEST legal issue here is the individual in question was a minor child. I don’t know Florida’s laws, but in most jurisdictions police have to exercise extreme caution — particularly when the individual could be the suspect — when questioning a minor child WITHOUT their parent, legal guardian or attorney present.

  29. @Lucky, first thank you for sharing the update, this is definitely an interesting story and also a scary and frustrating story for the young passenger. I am a lawyer and spent the first 6 years of my career as a big city DA, so have some thoughts on this (and a lot of experience reviewing police reports of all stripes). From what I can see, everything the officers did was more or less by the book. To echo a few other comments they did not have a right to search the phone, but given consent they certainly did. The scope of that consent could be debated but showing the image to another passenger in an effort to resolve the investigation is within reason and did not cause any harm to the passenger (it’s not like he shared the a social security number or address etc.). In this situation I think allowing the officers to see the phone was the right call, as asserting the right to protect the contents likely would have lead to further detention while the officers called in perhaps the feds or TSA to do more digging on the passenger in question (unclear if they would have obtained a warrant or, as pointed out above, more likely invoked right to search given that they were inside an airport secure area where all items subject to search–applying this to digital content on a locked phone is more complex but conceivable).

    Moving to the other passenger who was suspicious, it seems this person was (although in hindsight totally wrong) just adhering to the “see something say something” ethos. It is unfortunate that the airline did not do more to clarify the situation, however once a concern has been raised they do have a duty to investigate and follow protocol. The captain indicating the seat in the window is protocol (I assume) and at that point he/she had no idea of the actual facts or threat–that’s why the police were called and they did not confront the passenger first. I also understand re-seating the passenger. What I do disagree with, however, is how the airline handled the incident once it was clear to all that there was no threat. They should have apologized to the customer and explained that they were just following procedure etc. The lack of response to his letter is silly and overall I think an example of the general rude/dismissive attitude towards passengers that prevails these days (with a touch pf ageism thrown in).

    On balance this I think this is a typical example of post 9/11 sensitivities but, aside from the rude response from the airline, which I agree look lousy and amateur in how they are handling the follow up on this incident, it seems to me everyone’s response was above board and this was just an unfortunate misunderstanding. The young passenger should be commended for keeping cool and politely explaining himself so as not to escalate things.

  30. @Zymm – Highly unlikely as all passengers simply reported what they saw/thought they saw. The reporting passenger was incorrect but did not knowingly present false information.

  31. @Lucky –

    1) agree that the correct and responsible thing to do would be to issue an apology. Of course, the culture today is never to admit we did anything wrong until we absolutely have to…. so at the very least, the airline should explain exactly why they took the steps they did… and apologize for the poor treatment while still defending their actions. Had that been done DURING all of this in a civil and professional manner… perhaps the outcome would not have been so bad (see #3 below).

    2) Absolutely agree… that we should not encourage or reward other passengers from discriminating against other passengers. Here, however, as others have said… the claim was based on observed actions/words not just appearance. And, as out of line as the “complaint” seems, had nothing been done and there was an adverse event… everyone involved would be subject to Monday Morning Quarterbacks saying how it could have been prevented if people did their jobs etc…. If airlines are going to value security, they must value security… and in this case we can’t fault the airline for that.

    3) I still believe the procedure was correct. The process sucked. Airlines and police need to develop ways to civily deal with security situations that preserve the rights of everyone involved. And, when dealing with a minor… the process should have been handled with even more care. Trust me, I am disgusted with this. But I also see where the airline was coming from.

    PS. I am not the Charles in the posts about animals in the cabin 😉

  32. @grrizzly – I think you misunderstood my comment in the other thread. I did not play down the incident or “made it very clear that (I) didn’t care about what happened”, but rather attacked the passengers assertion that this was “discrimination” on the basis of his age or Polish ethnicity, and that the airline was “terrorising” him. The naivete expressed in those statements is highly unlikely to be expressed by someone who is an actual visible minority as they will probably have experienced more obvious forms of discrimination by that age.

  33. If I can give my opinion:

    Saying that we should put aside age and race is absurd because it is a key aspect, especially age.

    The passenger saw Matt do something he did not do. She reported what she saw as a threat (a picture with the respective words) but a properly trained FA should not have seen as a threat. Regardless, the FA most likely just called the Captain and stated Matt was “dangerous”. The captain having no context called the police and forwarded that broad information, hence the reason he was forced off and treated the way he was.
    Now back to age. He is 16 so he is a MINOR. This kid cannot sign a contract or even open a checking account. Regardless of his actual mentality, by law he is not fit to consent to anything, sign anything, etc. The cops should have known this. The FA, Captain, Airline should all know this as they transport minors.
    I’m not a lawyer so correct me if I’m wrong but this kid was not of age to give permission for the office to look through his phone. Heck he can’t even sign the phone company contract. The officer should have known this. From my eyes, that permission given was invalid, meaning the cop never had permission. From the other post I also understand that against the will of the ADULT sister, she was prevented from being with the minor during questioning. That is not ok and also a violation to my knowledge.

    As for the airline, they screwed up. Some things not their fault some things yes. I see that the flight attendant did not use proper judgement. It is simply foolish to say the report the FA got was too threatening to confront the passenger. No procedure possible would state to just call the police on someone after a report like that since we, fortunately, live in a country that prevents that. For example, if I go to a store and say someone is shoplifting the store would NEVER go and just call the cops. That would lead to a huge lawsuit most likely. Instead the store employees would have to visually see theft before calling the cops. The FA handled this very poorly and the young man has a good discrimination argument from that. The call made by the airline can be seen as harassment and also putting him in another seat even though the police report says both the captain and officer agreed there was no threat is harassment.

    The Police defiantly violated minor laws in my opinion.

    The airline defiantly harrassed, discriminated and really just handled the situation in the worst possible way.

    Sure they have procedure. Sure you should report something if you see something. But this was foolish on the part of all parties.

    We can argue on this blog who is in the right or wrong. While some people may say the airline did more wrong or less wrong, one person defiantly didnt do anything wrong and that was the teen. Someone should be at fault and that’s the airline and Police.

    I would contact a Civil Rights attorney and if the airline is smart they will settle with the teen. They are most likely already scrambling to provide him with the best resolution since they haven’t responded yet.

    I think Ben’s message is clear. The more attention and coverage this event gets the more support the kid gets. He did not do anything wrong from what I read and a simple share, email, or message will for sure help him in getting something out of it.

    Lucky you have an interesting perspective given this is a reader an I enjoy being able to follow this and hope you write on the final outcome

  34. Of course the old girl is at fault. She didn’t like the cut of his jib, underscored by the foreign language ‘phone call and her own xenophobia, and went off half-cocked. The greater fault is with the airline, demonstrating that some of those we are obliged to trust are, in fact, utterly clueless when it comes to evaluating security risks.
    I’m sure we’ve all been in situations in which at first glance it appeared that something dodgy was happening . It happened to me quite recently on an Egyptair to Cairo. Two youngish guys in the row in front of me were whispering conspiratorially and working together on IPads and phones. When I craned a bit to see what was happening it became clear that they were having a big clean-up /delete session of porn ( and keeping it from the view of other passengers). So they looked suspicious but in reality just a couple of kids fearful that they were gonna get their ears boxed/the rounds of the kitchen in the event that their Mums ever saw what they had been up to.

  35. Everyone go to Silver Airways Facebook and comment! Start a trend. Get them to resolve this and help the kid. Let’s show them what we can do

  36. As an attorney I totally agree with Bossman, Jeff, Sean and others. I think things in general were handled well and well within the law.

  37. Much ado about nothing. Procedures were followed. A flight was delayed a couple hours. Nobody got beat up, no puppies died.

    It’s just a slow news day and the blog must be filled with posts, meaningless posts if necessary, controversy must be generated, in order to keep the money rolling in.

    Life is short, move on people.

  38. Do Americans really think that “security procedure” translates into 100% see anything-report everything? Is that what is expected?

    When I was going through security course to get access to airport administration, there was plenty of examples of what should be reported (and to whom, and how) and what is NOT an issue or a threat. A person with dark glasses whispering on the phone. A woman with huge bag and oversized coat walking around the terminal. A kid standing in front of Starbucks. Granted there were 10 need-to-be-reported examples for each one that is trivial, but still. If ridiculous access to admin building required me to understand the difference between threat and cry-wolf, certainly the airline employee will have in their consciousness all the time? No, they are not getting “followed protocol” free-card from me. There is no protocol that calls for an escalation of every security-threat-perception always. Unless Russians actually won without anybody noticing and we are supposed to report on everybody and anybody and keep suspicion up.

  39. To Ben and anyone who sent emails to silver PR teams,

    you’re not as important as you think you are, at least in their eyes.

  40. Silver Airways is a nice airline. Love em. Half the price of The legacies to Islands. And nicest pilots around. Fly prop aircraft

  41. @F: You think it was appropriate for the officer to interrogate a minor without an adult or lawyer by his side?

  42. My take is that people oversimplified “see something say something”. That is imo the right philosophy. But people assume that means anyone who says anything we should overreact and do something big.

    In this situation the pilot should have more than enough marbles to look at the text and photos and know this is not an issue. I understand that maybe the pilot is over sensitive or don’t want the liability of a potential issue which is more a reflection of corporate policy. But I seriously doubt anyone in charge would look at the texts and conclude there may be a potential safety issue. Thats just nuts.

  43. As a law enforcement officer the police did nothing wrong with how they handled the situation. They responded. Contacted the subject. Conducted an investigation and determined that no crime occurred.

    They asked permission to view the phone and it was given. They asked to show to the captain which they did and he said nothing was wrong with the photo. They showed it to the reporting party who said that is what she saw so they confirmed their suspicions that there was no threat.

    The pilot can only act on what was reported to him by the FA. Not being associated with the DHS or the airline I assume he acted per protocol.

    The only person who made a mistake is the passenger who misread the text. She believed she saw something. Wouldn’t it be better to report something she believed rather than not and then something happens that could have been prevented.

    Why should Silver A apologize they reported a threat and acted accordingly.

  44. Wow lucky, you really are captain hindsight here. Silver airways responded to a passenger who was claiming that she saw something suspicious with an appropriate response. Why should the flight attended confront the individual in question?? Say he did have malicious intent. Surely the flight attendent trying to address the situation would be woefully untrained and unequipped to deal with it. Calling the cops was the right thing to do.
    Obviously in hindsight it’s easy to say that they over reacted because you know now the story

  45. @ AndyC The fact that he was a minor does not mean that he is not subject to being spoken to/detained by the police. Minors can and do commit crimes (obviously not in this case), and generally speaking are subject to the same laws as well as the same constitutional protections as adults. You need to be 18 (generally) to enter into contracts but that’s not the body of law that applies to interactions with police. If we was much younger no doubt the officer would have wanted to speak to whoever was with him, but there’s nothing specific that says that a police officer has to call a guardian before interacting with a minor.

  46. They called the cops because if they don’t and something happens it’s a PR and litigation nightmare they would face.
    The problem is the way the Americans signed away their freedom after 9/11. 9/11 happened because of extremely lax security. The pendulum has swung right back the other way.

  47. Only in America eh. As an ex FA and ground crew common sense should play a huge part here. Cabin crew are trained to do this and should have sought more info and worked from there without being so dramatic. Crew can be drama queens the best of times.

  48. @Bossman: I’m aware that police can talk and question minors when a crime is suspected.
    What I have an issue is, is that the kid’s adult sister/guardian was present and they refused to allow her to be present.
    Kids do not have the mental capability to refuse completely unreasonable demands from authority figures and they sure as hell have no clue what rights they have.

  49. This was not necessarily a fault of ridiculous security policies, but rather a failure of common sense on one hand (by the reporting passenger and the FA) and of basic civility and politeness on the other hand (by the airline, FA, and Pilot after the incident).

    Given the information the police officer had, it doesn’t sound like he violated protocol in any serious way.

    This really brings together two unique elements to the US air travel experience – this bizarre paranoia that means people take “see something say something” to an extreme (although it is definitely he right principle it seems many people are too ignorant or paranoid to make appropriate judgements), paired with the extraordinary rudeness most people are willing to accept (or have to accept) from airline staff these days who are there “for our safety” only and are given total control and discretion in these situations.

    The airline’s security policies don’t necessarily seem out of line, but heir handling of the process certainly was. I don’t think the policies are any less security conscious in Europe, but airlines and police generally seem to be able to handle these situations with far more common sense and discretion.

  50. “This really brings together two unique elements to the US air travel experience – this bizarre paranoia that means people take “see something say something” to an extreme (although it is definitely the right principle it seems many people are too ignorant or paranoid to make appropriate judgements), paired with the extraordinary rudeness most people are willing to accept (or have to accept) from airline staff these days who are there “for our safety” only and are given total control and discretion in these situations.

    The airline’s security policies don’t necessarily seem out of line, but heir handling of the process certainly was.”

    This. Completely agree with you @Kerry.

  51. @AndyC – I hear you. I think protocol is to speak to the “suspect” (police language, not meaning he did anything wrong) first, but officers should use their discretion to make sure a minor is being looked out for. What the law requires and what’s fair/reasonable/prudent are not always the same thing.

  52. I used to fly Silver several times a month for business. What a shit show that airline is- the worst in on-time departures, constant flight cancellations, and one of the worst customer service phone lines in the world. While waiting on the phone for 45-60 minutes during every call, the slap-in-the-face was getting to listen to the recorded hold messages touting that the airline was voted “best in regional air travel.” HA!!!!!!! The worst!

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