Bad Idea: Eighteen Brits Kicked Off British Airways Flight in Tel Aviv After Threatening To “Blow Up The Plane”

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A group of 18 British travelers were kicked off a British Airways flight from Israel after one passengers threatened to blow up the aircraft.

Even though this might have have been part of a (bad) joke the group allegedly also made antisemitic remarks about other passengers, and as a result all of them got kicked off and the main offender was lead away by security forces.

There are jokes and then there are really really bad jokes made at the wrong place and time. Considering how tight the security situation at Israel’s airports is, I wouldn’t recommend doing any sort of bomb threat jokes around there.

The Independent reported that doing just that didn’t end well for the group en route to London.

A group of 18 British tourists were thrown off a plane in Israel after one of them allegedly threatened to blow up the aircraft.

One of the passengers, who were all men, was led away by security forces after being ejected from the British Airways jet at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv.

Some of the group are also alleged to have made antisemitic jokes about other passengers after boarding the flight to London Heathrow on Sunday.

“After they sat down on the plane, one of the members of the group said he would blow up the plane,” said the Israel Airports Authority in a statement issued to local media. “The captain informed the airline in London and received an order to remove the group from the plane.”

Another passenger on the flight told The Independent he believed the bomb threat to have been “ill-judged humour”. …

“If somebody did say something about blowing the plane up I think it will have been to the people immediately around them – it wasn’t something that was shouted out. But it’s not something that anybody in the right frame of mind would be saying on a plane anywhere.”

Mr Andrews, who had been on holiday in Tel Aviv with friends, said the men thrown off the plane were “fairly well-dressed”, appeared to be aged in their early- to mid-thirties, and seemed to be drunk. …

The 4.40pm (1.40pm GMT) flight was delayed for more than two hours as an airport security team swept the aircraft for explosives, but none were found. The plane took off at 7pm local time.

A British Airways spokesman said: “The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority.

So not only did British Airways kick off the offenders (rightfully so) but then passengers were inconvenienced as an entirely new security sweep was required. Oh boy I’m sure the people on board weren’t happy about this and many might as well have missed their connections in Heathrow.

Here is British Airways’ Code of Conduct Policy out of the COC:

11 A – Behavior on the aircraft – Unacceptable behavior:

If, while you are on board the aircraft, we reasonably believe that you have:

  • put the aircraft, or any person in it, in danger
  • deliberately interfered with the crew in carrying out their duties
  • failed to obey the instructions of the crew relating to safety or security
  • failed to obey the seat-belt or no-smoking signs
  • committed a criminal offence
  • allowed your physical or mental state to become affected by drink or drugs
  • failed to obey the crew’s instructions relating to drink or drugs
  • made a hoax bomb or other security threat
  • threatened, abused or insulted the crew or other passengers
  • behaved in a threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly way towards the crew or other passengers or
  • behaved in a way which causes discomfort, inconvenience, damage or injury to the crew or other passengers

we [BA] may take any measures we think reasonable to prevent you continuing your behaviour. When the aircraft lands, we may decide to:

  • make you leave the aircraft
  • refuse to carry you on the remaining sectors of the journey shown on your ticket and
  • report the incident on board the aircraft to the relevant authorities with a view to them prosecuting you for any criminal offences you might have committed.
11 – B – Diversion costs caused by unacceptable behavior :

If, as a result of your behaviour, we divert the aircraft to an unscheduled place of destination and make you leave the aircraft, you must pay us the reasonable and proper costs of the diversion.

Quite clearly the COC are straight forward about the conduct that can lead passengers to get kicked off AND one could also conclude that the carrier might recoup associated costs from the offending passenger. That would be an expensive adventure!

The insults directed to other passengers alone would be a reason, as per the above, to eject someone from the plane prior to takeoff. Not sure how far you can go with that until this by itself is being enforced.

Conclusion

This was obviously the worst place and time to make such jokes (not that there would ever be a suitable point of time in claiming “I’m blowing this whole thing up” but I guess sometimes it slips through) – don’t do it on the plane! And maybe don’t do it at a place where you have plenty of security guards with machine guns, trained to instantly react to any terror threat.

British Airways was fully within their rights in this case to get rid of the passengers and have the authorities deal with them. I often say that flight crew abuses their authority on board but as soon as there is a verbal bomb threat then there’s very little leeway. Kick ’em off!

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