Saturday, May 07, 2016

Passenger thinks University of Pennsylvania professor doing math is "terrorist;" flight delayed

An American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse was delayed more than two hours when a passenger saw University of Pennsylvania professor Guido Menzio scribbling math and allegedly thought he was a terrorist. 

 A University of Pennsylvania economics professor who was scribbling math while waiting on a plane for his Philadelphia-to-Syracuse flight to take off on Thursday evening apparently triggered paranoia in a fellow passenger, causing a flight delay of more than two hours.

Guido Menzio - who has dark, curly hair and wears glasses, according to his Penn faculty web photo - was on the scheduled 7:20 p.m. American Airlines flight 3950 to Syracuse.

He said he was told that a fellow passenger thought he was a "terrorist." Menzio is Italian, and according to his web page, had won the Carlo Alberto Medal for Best Italian Economist Under 40 last year.

In a social media post, Menzio wrote that the woman who had been sitting next to him on the plane had passed a note to a flight attendant, and when the attendant returned, she asked the woman if she was comfortable taking off or was "too sick."

Menzio noted that the plane then returned to the gate and the woman sitting next to him left her seat.

He was then asked by the pilot to get off the plane, and at that point, he was "met by some FBI looking man-in-black," he wrote in his post.

After first being asked about the woman who had been sitting next to him, Menzio said he was then told that the woman "thought I was a terrorist because I was writing strange things on a pad of paper. I laugh. I bring them back to the plane. I showed them my math."

Efforts to reach Menzio on Saturday were not successful.

He told the Washington Post for an article published Saturday that he's 40, was wearing jeans and a red Lacoste sweater and that the woman next to him appeared to be in her 30s and was wearing flip-flops. He said she tried to make small talk with him, but he was too busy with his math notations.

Menzio, who lives in Philadelphia, was on his way to Syracuse for a connecting flight to Ontario to give a talk Friday at Queen's University at its "2016 QED Frontiers of Macroeconomics Workshop." His 11 a.m. talk was entitled "The (Q, S, s) Pricing Rule."

Apparently, his math is pretty high level and technical.

In his own social media post, Menzio wrote: "The lady just looked at me, looked at my writing of mysterious formulae, and concluded I was up to no good. Because of that an entire flight was delayed ... Trump's America is already here. It's not yet in power though. Personally, I will fight back."

Menzio's Facebook page says he's from Turin, Italy.

Casey Norton, an American Airlines spokesman, confirmed Saturday that flight 3950, an American Eagle flight that was operated by Air Wisconsin, was delayed for more than two hours Thursday night.

"Taxiing out on takeoff, a customer reported she was not feeling well," explained Norton. The woman asked a flight attendant for the plane to return to the gate so she could get off, he said.

He said the plane returned to the gate about 8:30 p.m. and stayed there for about an hour.

As the woman was getting off the plane, she then "reported concern about another customer's behavior," Norton said.

Norton would not say what the concern was about the other passenger. He would only confirm that the other passenger was a man and had been sitting near the woman.

He said American Airlines' customer-service manager, the Air Wisconsin captain and ground security all determined the female passenger's "concerns were not validated," and so the flight eventually left the gate at 9:42 p.m.

He said the female passenger later got rebooked on another flight to Syracuse that night.

Original article can be found here:

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