Flight 613 Mutiny

Passengers are conducting their own profiling where their governments won’t:

British holidaymakers staged an unprecedented mutiny – refusing to allow their flight to take off until two men they feared were terrorists were forcibly removed.

The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic.

Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for Flight ZB 613 in the departure lounge refused to board it.

The incident fuels the row over airport security following the arrest of more than 20 people allegedly planning the suicide-bombing of transatlantic jets from the UK to America. It comes amid growing demands for passenger-profiling and selective security checks.

It also raised fears that more travellers will take the law into their own hands – effectively conducting their own ‘passenger profiles’.


The trouble in Malaga flared last Wednesday as two British citizens in their 20s waited in the departure lounge to board the pre-dawn flight and were heard talking what passengers took to be Arabic. Worries spread after a female passenger said she had heard something that alarmed her.

Passengers noticed that, despite the heat, the pair were wearing leather jackets and thick jumpers and were regularly checking their watches.

Initially, six passengers refused to board the flight. On board the aircraft, word reached one family. To the astonishment of cabin crew, they stood up and walked off, followed quickly by others.

Captain Ed, as always, is on the mark:

After 9/11, every flyer understands that they are targeted by terrorists and have to remain vigilant. This message has been reinforced over and over again by the governments themselves. Common sense dictates that people will act in their perceived self-interest in any case, and that means people will remain highly suspicious of Arabic men traveling together — and more so when they act strangely. In Malanga, the two wore heavy clothing despite the heat and kept checking their watches. That was enough to make them unwilling to risk a flight with the two men, and they applied the pressure necessary for the airline to eject the two.

Is that fair? Hardly. However, the unwillingness of the governments in both the UK and the US to provide systems of screening that instill confidence in the flying public has led to these incidents. They will continue and increase while screening systems insist on playing political correctness games instead of focusing on real threats as the Israelis have done for decades. As I wrote earlier this week, the US has an experimental program attempting to create a similar system; it should get expedited and expanded as soon as possible.

This was an interesting – yet unsurprsing – quote from the article itself:

Patrick Mercer, the Tory Homeland Security spokesman, said last night: “This is a victory for terrorists. These people on the flight have been terrorised into behaving irrationally.

“For those unfortunate two men to be victimised because of the colour of their skin is just nonsense.”

Gina Cobb sets Mr. Mercer straight.

This is the problem with me being behind on blogging – everyone else gets the good lines written before I get the chance to attempt to ;)

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