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Flight to LA locked down cockpit over passengers praying, thoughts?

LOS ANGELES – Pilots on an Alaska Airlines flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles locked down the cockpit and alerted authorities Sunday when a flight crew grew alarmed at the behavior of three men who turned out to be conducting an elaborate orthodox Jewish prayer ritual, officials said.

The men, all Mexican nationals, began the ritual that involves tying leather straps and small wooden boxes to the body, and the crew of Flight 241 alerted the cockpit, airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said.

"Shortly after takeoff, a flight attendant saw what she believed was unusual behavior from three passengers on board," Egan said in a statement. "The three passengers were praying aloud in Hebrew and were wearing what appeared to be leather straps on their foreheads and arms."

The cockpit was placed on a security lockdown for the rest of the flight — meaning the door couldn't be opened even for pilots to leave briefly. Normal protocol calls for the cockpit to be locked, but on longer flights the pilots will leave and return from the flight deck.

FBI and customs agents along with police and a full assignment of fire trucks met the plane at the gate at Los Angeles International Airport, and the men were escorted off.

After questioning from the FBI, the men were released without being arrested. They continued in their travel which took them overseas, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told City News Service. Eimiller said she could release no further information because the men were not charged with anything.

Egan said airline officials later learned from law enforcement the men were performing the ritual known as tefillin.

Answer Question

Asked by sweet-a-kins at 8:32 AM on Mar. 14, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 34 (67,502 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • From what that article described I would have been alarmed as well. It was likely something they'd never seen before. I'd rather a non-incident be reported than a real threat go unreported. They were questioned and released, no problem.

    Answer by sopranomommy at 8:38 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • If it looked at all suspicious to the crew, they did the right thing. It is their job to safely fly and land the plane, and that's what they did.

    Answer by NannyB. at 9:10 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Better safe than sorry

    Answer by itsmesteph11 at 9:14 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • I have actually seen this on a plane before. It's not really uncommon but I admit I was taken aback the first time I saw it. I can understand why the flight attendant felt alarmed although I do think the pilots should have been a little more wordly and knew what that was about.

    Answer by Syphon at 9:25 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • They were tying crap to their bodies? Yeah, they were right to lock things down. The passengers could have let the flight attendants know that they were going to hold an unusual prayer service that involved props. People are really inconsiderate.

    Answer by lovinangels at 11:26 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Sign of the times in a platt 9-11 world.

    Answer by grlygrlz2 at 11:26 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Post 9-11

    Answer by grlygrlz2 at 11:27 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Post 911, I believe ALL cockpit  doors are locked-


    Answer by Sisteract at 11:42 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • first of all its not crap that they tie to their bodies... do your research and my question is this ... how long has this flight attendant been doing this job?
    Most flight attendants have encountered orthodox jews and if you do your research on the different types of people that come aboard.. you will be less likely to be spooked.
    My step mom that raised me is a UA Flight attendant and flies overseas all the time. She would know of this and not be alarmed. She has been flying since 1966!

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 1:21 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • I am wondering why someone didnt just ASK them, hey...whatcha doing???


    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 2:01 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

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