Smokes on a Plane

Keeping in mind that the news reports are still coming in, let’s talk about what we know so far about the smokes-on-a-plane story developing at Denver International Airport.

From what has been reported it appears that a Qatari man, possibly a diplomat, was arrested after making a comment about trying to light his shoe on fire, after he was caught smoking in the lavatory (facts are still trickling in). With Richard Reid, the notorious shoe bomber of 2001 who is responsible for making us all wear clean socks when we fly and the Christmas underwear bomber still on our minds, authorities responded as they should have. You take this situation seriously.

Granted, the news stations are devoting a ton of time to this, but maybe it’s just a slow news day. The reality is this: (a) you don’t make jokes about bombs on a plane or in the airport; (b) the FBI should take this seriously because you never know if this is a test-run by a criminal or terrorist element, and even if it isn’t, those elements are watching carefully how authorities are responding; (c) it looks like DIA is doing things right, as opposed to the Christmas bomb incident which was rife with miscommunications and missteps in the airline and airport responses.

Once notified of the threat, F-16’s were scrambled and the plane landed quickly and was moved to an isolated parking position. It did NOT go to the main terminal as did the Northwest flight on Christmas. The isolated parking position is inline with ICAO protocols and keeps the terminal safe if there really is a bomb on the plane. Also, putting the plane in the IPP helps authorities control the scene.

Passengers are being interviewed, bags and the airplane are searched by explosive detection entities — two other things that did not happen when they should have in Detroit. At the end of the day, this may turn out to be nothing but a good exercise for TSA, FBI, DIA and United Airlines personnel in a bomb threat, but we don’t know that. It should be treated as serious as an actual threat until it’s confirmed that it is not.

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6 Responses to Smokes on a Plane

  1. I am glad to see that this was handled properly but, as you mentioned, why couldn’t they handle all issues like this. The Christmas Day attempted bombing was handled in one of the worse manners possible and the fact that no one has mentioned that on the news is a little sad as well. This was a real serious threat. Why even attempt to light a cigarette on a plane? I have flown with many Middle Eastern Airlines, like Qatar Airlines, Saud Air, Emirates and a few others and none of them allows smoking on the plane. I still blame that law on the Hindenburg. Anyway, the fact that he did not have the presence of mind to not joke in this situation to make matters even worse. It went from a hassle to the aircrew and a nice large fine for the violation, to a huge delay for everyone on board and a huge response effort by DIA. At least if terrorists were testing our system, we seem to have gotten this one right.

  2. I agree, these threats – whether they are serious or not, should be handled by the proper authorities with complete caution. The attack of 9/11 is still too fresh in our minds and these dangerous terrorist attempts on aircraft have only become more frequent in the past 10 years. These attacks are violent and the fact that many passengers’ lives could be on the line during an attempted terrorist act is no joking matter. The media will certainly exaggerate facts and details but they are also educating the American citizens on the dangers of terrorism.

  3. First off, the offender was smoking in the bathroom of the plane?? We all know this is a huge no-no, and that offense in itself should have sent him to jail. The crew says you can’t smoke at the beginning of every flight, and that tampering with the detectors is a federal offence. The smoke and the smell coming from the bathroom would defiantly cause a panic among the passengers and crew. Now the situation got worse when he said something along the lines of, “It’s not like I’m lighting my shoe on fire.” This guy should have just kept his mouth shut after being caught smoking, and then these types of comments would defiantly cause alarm. This guy doesn’t sound to smart, and should have know he would get in trouble for the smoking incident at the least. This guy’s actions and comments drew agents away from what could have been a real life threatening situation, as well as displaced and inconvenienced many passengers.

  4. This story seems like a perfect example of a situation handled properly. In the world today we should not seat back and take treats so lightly. We need to make sure that when ever there is a treat in the aviation world that we look into to the most of our ability. There were a lot of warning signs that could have helped derail the planing and the attacks on 9/11 But both the Cilinton and Bush administrations dropped the ball of national security.

  5. Smoking on a plane definately says something about this guy being in the wrong from the get go. Either he is a couple of loose screws short of falling apart, or maybe he wanted to test the waters to see just what he could get away with (terrorist or no terrorist). However the securities of this situation were handled at an appropriate level as should every possible threat on an airplane. However I have gotten onto an airplane many of times with a lighter or knife strictly by accident, and I can’t put the entire blame on airport security. The traffic is too strong coming in and out. Hopefully we just all learn from this, and move forward into bigger and better ideas on how to prevent these events from happening again

  6. This is the kind of people who believe they have the rigth to do whatever they want and laws don’t apply to them. After 9-11 everything changed, we need to respond to any threat and have people like this sent to jail. I hope that people se this on the news and think twice before acting up on an airplane or making foolish comments.

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