What would happen if some attention whore decided to fake suspicious behavior on a flight? Like, just acting shifty on purpose, saying some Muslim prayers, making frequent trips to the bathroom, asking the flight attendants about the cock pit, pretending to sweat and acting very nervous…
If they force the plane to land because of this suspicious behavior, will the passenger get in trouble?
Actually, it might have happened today, on a flight from Paris to Charlotte, North Carolina, when a female passenger told a flight attendant that she had a "surgically implanted device. From an article on this, “The woman was arrested, according to Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. She said that John Pistole, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, told her that ‘a female passenger passed a note to a flight attendant stating that she was carrying a surgically implanted device. Two doctors on board the plane examined the woman, but found no evidence of surgical scars or incisions.’” I have no idea why she would have done this.
Edited to add that the flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine. (Snarky suggestion: Perhaps she really didn’t want to go to North Carolina.)
Claiming to have a device (bomb) implanted in your body (or luggage) is an actual, defined crime, whereas acting suspicious on purpose (to disrupt the flight or just to see what will happen) would only be actionable if you were stupid enough to admit that’s what you were doing, if even then…
If the flight crew determines your behaviour to be potentially disruptive to the flight, they can - and will - remove you from the flight. In some cases, this will involve a diversion, in others you will be removed before takeoff, and in others you will be greeted by the police upon landing at your destination.
It is also illegal to disobey instructions from the flight crew, so if you ignore any instructions given, you could also be detained.
The regulations pertaining to this are part of the Code of Federal Regulations, and are therefore criminal law.
I am curious. If someone gets on the plane, starts getting really jittery. Murmers prayers, makes frequent trips to the bathroom, ask questions about the cockpit to the flight attendant…none of those things are illegal…and none of those things mean that the person wouldn’t be obeying instructions. If the attendant asks the passenger to remain in her seat, and our nervous passenger remains in her seat but continues to mop her brow, murmur prayers, request a strong drink, etc, I can imagine they may decide to take her off the plane. If they do that, that is all they can really do, right? They can’t charge her with anything.
The flight crew can opt to remove pretty much anyone they want from the flight, if they feel the “safety” of the flight is at risk (and someone acting shifty fits that description).
Whether or not they are charged probably depends on whether the person is faking or just awkward/nervous or mentally ill or whatever, but they can still be charged, I think. 14 CFR 125.328 seems - and this is just my impression, not really backed up by looking at court cases - to be rather broadly interpreted and so pretending to act in a suspicious manner could be taken to mean that you are preventing the flight crew from operating the aircraft in a safe manner (do you really want your pilot distracted by wondering if the crazy in seat 14B is really going to blow you up, or is just faking it?)
I don’t know how successfully such charges have been prosecuted, though. I just know that there are a lot of stories about people being detained/charged for all sorts of disruptive behaviour. I’d say once every week or two in the US is pretty common (based on the Curt Lewis Flight Safety Newsletter).
Anyone besides me see the reality show Airline? Very educational, basically a camera crew would follow airline employees as they went about their day, much like the show COPS does with police officers.
The show taught me that people are prevented from boarding and kicked off of flights ALL THE DAMN TIME for any reason, one guy was removed from a flight because he smelled stinky.
And you can be damn sure race and appearance plays a big part in how serious hypothetical mischief will be treated by the crew and law enforcement.
In one episode a young white male was removed from a flight for causing disruptions, telling numerous passengers he was a flight marshal tailing a middle eastern guy with a bomb, changing seats for a better view and generally being an ass enough that many passengers reported him. I thought for sure this guy is getting arrested, they even called police, but nope in the end they let him go and he was even able to get back on a later flight.:smack::dubious: They had in other episodes treated other passengers MUCH worse, including snidely calling ambulances when old people complained of ill health to line jump etc.
So make sure you are a white cop wannabe when you disrupt a flight!
This is the catch-all rule that, if they really wanted to, the crew could use to get just about anybody kicked off the plane and/or arrested. No, it’s not illegal to make frequent trips to the bathroom, but if the flight attendants tell you to stay in your seat for the remainder of the flight and you get up and head to the bathroom again, then it’s illegal.
So, yeah, if you’re being a jackass and they tell you to cut it out, you surely can get in trouble for continuing to be a jackass, even if you were technically doing nothing against the rules otherwise.