Math Equation Mistaken For Scribblings Of A Terrorist

Open Jaw

A 40-minute U.S. domestic flight was delayed 1.5 hours in yet another case of "see something, say something" gone awry.

A woman on an American Airlines regional jet traveling from Philadelphia to Syracuse on Thursday passed a note to a flight attendant expressing concern that her seatmate was a terrorist writing on a notepad in a language she did not understand.

We don’t understand algebra very well either, but writing mathematical equations on a plane is not a crime.

The man was Prof. Guido Menzio, an Italian native who is now a tenured University of Pennsylvania economics professor. He was en route to giving a speech at a conference at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON.

Apparently, his seatmate, a woman who tried to strike up a conversation with him, saw his doodlings, mistook him for Arabic instead of Italian, and slipped a note to a flight attendant saying she was sick.

When she was asked to come forward, she told the flight attendant her real concern was Menzio. The woman, who remains unidentified, never re-boarded the plane, operated by Air Wisconsin. The flight attendants alerted security.

Within minutes, Menzio wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post, he himself was asked by the pilot to step out of the plane for a moment.

“There I was met by some FBI looking man-in-black,” Menzio wrote.

He was briefly asked about his seatmate but then then attention turned to Menzio, who was told the woman thought he was a terrorist for “writing strange things on a pad of paper.”

Menzio laughed, showed authorities the piece of paper and was allowed back on the flight.

Menzio called the incident “a bit funny (but) it’s a bit worrisome. The lady just looked at me, looked at my writing of mysterious formulae and concluded I was up to no good. Because of that, an entire flight was delayed by 1.5 hours..."


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