Flight Attendants Call Security Alert Over Men Praying
There's naive, and then there's just plain clueless. The crew of an Alaska Airlines flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles would fall into the latter category for locking down the cockpit and sending out a security alert because they caught three passengers praying together in a foreign language.
Unfamiliar with an Orthodox Jewish prayer ritual, flight attendants became alarmed when they saw three male passengers nodding and speaking together in a foreign language, which turned out to be Hebrew. The crew was also suspicious of the men because they had donned leather straps with small boxes on their foreheads and arms. These were later determined to be Tefillin, commonly worn by devout Jewish men when they pray.
Unaware of the harmless nature of the ritual, the crew placed the cockpit on security lockdown for the rest of the flight, meaning the door couldn't be opened for anyone, including the pilots, to get in or out -- until the plane landed.
Once the plane touched down at Los Angeles International Airport, it was met by FBI and customs agents, along with police and multiple fire trucks. The men were escorted off the plane by security forces.
The three men, who were all Mexican nationals, were questioned by the FBI, then released to continue their travels overseas. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said they were not charged with anything. Makes you wonder what might happen if a non-Catholic flight attendant caught someone genuflecting.
Stories from AARP