A 17-year-old passenger inadvertently caused a scare aboard a US Airways flight from New York to Louisville on Thursday morning. The young flyer, an Orthodox Jew, was wearing an article of clothing that some on the plane feared might be an explosive device.
When the alarmed passenger saw the phylacteries, he alerted the crew, and the plane was immediately diverted to Philadelphia. Once on the ground, authorities questioned the boy, and quickly determined the incident had been a false alarm. No arrests were made.
In the wake of the news, online searches on both "phylactery" and "tefillin" both surged from nothing into breakout status. Other related queries also quickly popped up. "What is a phylactery" and "tefillin pictures" were on top of peoples' minds. Those who researched the religious item learned that the phylactery boxes contain prayers inside them. You can see an image here, courtesy of Wikipedia.
This most recent scare clearly highlights the need for more cultural understanding. However, it isn't the first time an innocent gesture has sent flyers into a full-blown alert. Following the Christmas Day scare in which a passenger tried to detonate a bomb on a flight, there have been several false alarms.
A few weeks ago, a man snuck into a secure area to give his special lady a goodbye kiss, causing the entire Newark airport to temporarily shut down. Several days prior to that, an ill passenger who had locked himself in an airplane restroom for over an hour caused no small amount of alarm. Fortunately, he posed absolutely no threat.