Are Security Concerns Starting to Override Common Sense?

The allure of cheap airplane tickets and cheap vacation packages may start to diminish as more and more U.S. flights are diverted from their intended destinations. Last Thursday, January 21st, a US Airways Express flight carrying 15 passengers from New York to Louisville was diverted to Philadelphia when the flight crew became nervous over a 17 year old Orthodox Jews prayer ritual.

After the plane had taken off Caleb Leibowitz pulled out a religious instrument called a tefillin, which includes two small black boxes containing Biblical passages that were attached to leather straps. Leibowitz placed one box on his hair line and the other on his upper arm. The straps on the arm box were wrapped down his arm and around his hand.

When questioned by a flight attendant, the teen explained the ritual, but the captain decided to divert the plane. It arrived without incident 90 minutes later and was met by police and personnel from the FBI and TSA (Transportation Security Administration).

Security officials interviewed the passenger and did a security sweep of the plane without finding anything of concern. Police reported that the teen was very cooperative. Leibowitz was never placed in custody and was cleared to continue his trip.

Clearly there is nothing wrong with praying on an airline. However, before performing a ceremony not typically seen on airlines, notifying the attendant before you begin would be the wise move.

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