August 12, 2022

Every so often there’s a story about a flight being seriously delayed or canceled because someone was trying to make a joke about something safety related. This story is along those lines, except this time it wasn’t a passenger making a joke.

Airport agent jokes there’s a terrorist on plane

This incident took place on July 14, 2022, on Air France flight AF646 from Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Saint-Denis de La Réunion (RUN). The flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, and was scheduled to depart at 4:40PM local time.

According to reports, during boarding an airport agent whispered in the ear of a girl that was boarding the plane to “be careful, there is a terrorist on the plane.” It’s not clear if this was an Air France agent, or an airport contract worker.

The child’s family informed the flight attendants of what was said, and they informed the captain. This triggered the flight having to undergo a full security check, and then eventually this caused the flight to be canceled.

As Air France explained in a statement (this is translated from French to English):

“Due to a suspicion of a malicious act the crew decided, in accordance with the security procedures in place, to interrupt the departure procedure of the plane and to have a security inspection carried out by the police. No real threat was observed during this inspection. The duration of this inspection caused the prescribed time for the engagement of the crews to be reached, consequently, the flight was postponed to July 15, 2022 at 4 p.m. The passengers were disembarked and taken care of by Air France teams for the night.”

Why would an airport agent joke about this?

Police were able to find the 46-year-old who made the comment to the passenger. He explained that he was just trying to “joke” with the child, and said he “did not want to harm anyone,” and he wasn’t aware of the consequences of the joke.

He will have to go to court next February (that far out?!), as he has been charged with obstructing the movement of an aircraft.

Air France has lodged a complaint, and estimates that the damage of this incident is roughly 550,000 Euro. I assume that includes paying out EU261 compensation to a lot of people, including for the return flight, which was also delayed by around a day.

Bottom line

There are always going to be some people who aren’t great with boundaries or reading the room. In the case of flying, typically it’s just passengers who behave this stupidly. Well, an Air France flight was recently canceled after an airport agent joked to a little girl that there was a terrorist on the flight. Somehow he didn’t see how that joke might not land well.

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