Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
An Alaska Airlines passenger has been hit with a $10,500 fine after falsely claiming his flight had been hijacked and that an armed assailant was holding a flight attendant at knifepoint.
On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it intended to slap the passenger with a civil penalty over the hoax that prompted a full-scale security alert and resulted in passengers being evacuated from the aircraft at gunpoint.
The terrifying incident took place on January 23 onboard Alaska Airlines flight 65 from Seattle to Ketchikan but the full details of exactly what happened have only now come to light. At the time, officials simply said a “security threat” had been made against the aircraft.
“The FAA alleges that as the flight was preparing to depart from the gate, the passenger made a 911 call reporting that the aircraft was being hijacked,” a statement released by the agency on Tuesday explained.
“He told the 911 dispatcher that a man was holding up a flight attendant at knifepoint near the front of the aircraft and repeatedly asked the dispatcher to stop the flight.”
As the plane taxied to the runway for takeoff, the man got up twice from his seat despite flight attendant instructions for him to remain seated. At that point, the flight crew had no idea that the man was on the phone to 911 claiming the flight was under attack.
Air traffic controllers instructed the pilots to taxi to a remote part of the airport at which point the man allegedly called the FBI and made mention of a bomb.
“Law enforcement boarded the aircraft armed with rifles and evacuated passengers and crew,” the FAA said. The plane was searched for a suspect device while the passengers were subjected to a search by law enforcement.
“All of the passenger’s claims were false and resulted in a multi-hour delay of the flight,” the FAA’s statement continued.
The FAA is proposing the civil penalty against the passenger on top of any criminal charges he may also face. On Tuesday, the agency announced a total of $119,000 in civil penalties against nine passengers for alleged violations of federal regulations. So far this year, the FAA has handed out $682,000 in fines to unruly passengers.
Alaska Airlines has been contacted for comment.
Photo Credit: Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock.com
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.