United Deplanes Flight After Passenger Airdrops Photo Of Toy Gun

Yesterday afternoon a United Airlines flight deplaned everyone after it had already boarded because one of its passengers was airdropping photos of a toy gun.

In a world where two inch plastic toy guns that come with stuffed animals are deemed security threats photos of toy guns are also threats – or are threatening.

The flight from San Francisco to Orlando was supposed to leave at 2 p.m. but the flight was “held on the tarmac after several passengers reported receiving inappropriate photos” according to a passenger.

The photos, he said, were of an Airsoft gun. They were sent through AirDrop, the function on iPhones and other Apple devices that allows digital material to be sent across phones, tablets and other devices.

Shortly after, Beale explained, the pilot announced a threat on-board, forcing everyone on the plane to be re-checked at the Transportation Security Authority checkpoint.

For the uninitiated “an Airsoft gun” are “replica toy guns used in airsoft sports” that have their own category for purchase on Amazon.

Eventually the plane was “cleaned and inspected for a potential threat” and the teenager with the toy gun photos was not permitted to reboard the aircraft. The gun whose pictures were being sent wasn’t actually even a toy gun he owned.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I mean, I guess I personally don’t view toy guns as a threat per se, but is this not otherwise very bizarre behavior? What if someone had “airdropped” or whatever the eff it is, photos of a toy bomb or toy dynamite? Or a drawing of a gun? Is it any less serious because it isn’t a photograph of the real thing?

  2. This is really fucking stupid. I mean yes it is bizarre and inappropriate to be airdropping this (or really any) photo on board a plane, but to take it seriously speaks to the needless paranoia we have around aviation safety.

    “Why are people like this” asks the twitter post. People are varied and some will be bizarre. If we trust the security screening process of bags and luggage, we should not layer on paranoia on top of that. So although “Why are people like this” was in reference to the airdropper — I would turn it around and ask the general flying public if their paranoia is worth it.

  3. Given the recent news about phones of world leaders being infected by silent text previews in iMessage, one wonders how safe accepting arbitrary AirDrop photos from random strangers is. It’s not going to bring down a plane, but I hope the pilot’s iPad with checklists and similar flight critical support information has AirDrop disabled.

  4. If anyone on a plane had bad intentions (other than flight attendants and pilots who abuse authority over flight safety to be “Gods”), he or she would do it. There is no point to return once a plane is on the tarmac or is in the air. Cops/Fed’s/ TSA aren’t making anyone safer. 99.9999% of threats or perceived threats are false.

    Possessing and communicating images falls under free speech. To classify that as a threat is obscene and a crime against humanity.

    A person can be airdropping to his friend sitting next to him and it can be viewed by others. There is no proof of any intent.

  5. @CoLi – Completely right. How are other people with little information supposed to accurately gauge whether this is an incredibly bad joke, rank stupidity, or some sort of implied threat? If this is okay, then making bomb jokes should be fine as well, right?

  6. Florida bound, enough said. The state should be removed from the US and a canal dug to separate it from the rest of the country. What a shithole.

  7. LMAO at JACKSON HOLE in the brain. You must of hit on so many FA’s and been quickly turned down , because they really hurt you. Show us on the doll where the flight crew upset you ?

  8. I was threatened to be thrown off a flight yesterday because I had 3 bags.

    One was a fanny pack that I had on.

    AA from DCA to MCO. The guy who ended up sitting next to me said, “That was f*cking ridiculous, it’s a f*cling fanny pack.”

    Some agents just love being on a power trip.

  9. @Jackson Waterson
    Hey Jack, Tim j came up with a good one “Jackson Hole”. As in “Whole in the Head”. More like the other “hole”. “Crime against humanity”. Ha!Ha!Ha!. That’s funny Jack. Dumb as hell but funny.
    Jack go get yourself a pilots license then you can play God. Then you won’t have to worry about the 99 percenters by flying your own plane. That way you won’t have to deal with white trash like yourself. Good Riddance.

  10. @ray I think this incident happened in San Francisco, not Florida. Therefore the Californians on staff at SFO made this overreacting dumbass decision. Common sense and California are asynchronous.

  11. As a former f/a, these kids and their jokes are taken seriously. I cannot understand why they do not think of others, if something like this happened at one on their schools, parents would be calling and screaming. It is so sad that folks do not consider what there actions will do……..

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