Flight set to land in Louisville diverted to Pa. after confusion over prayer


by Associated Press


Posted on January 21, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 21 at 2:53 PM

   PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A teenage airplane passenger using an Orthodox Jewish prayer instrument caused a misunderstanding that led the captain to divert the Kentucky-bound plane to Philadelphia and prompted a visit from a bomb squad.
   A 17-year-old boy on US Airways Express Flight 3079 traveling from New York to Louisville was using tefillin, a set of black boxes attached to leather straps and containing biblical passages, said Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore.
   When used in prayer, one box is strapped to the arm while the other box is placed on the head.
   "It's something that the average person is not going to see very often, if ever," FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver said.
   The teen explained the ritual after being questioned by crew members, but the captain decided to land in Philadelphia anyway, authorities said.
   The flight left LaGuardia Airport in New York around 7:30 a.m.; it landed without incident in Philadelphia about 90 minutes later and was met by police and officials from the FBI and Transportation Security Administration.
   Authorities said the plane was searched and passengers were questioned. The teen, who is from White Plains, N.Y., and was traveling with his 16-year-old sister, was very cooperative, Vanore said.
   "They were more alarmed than we were," Vanore said.
   Klaver said the teen and his sister were never in custody, and have been cleared to continue their travels.
   Passengers on 50-seat regional jet, which was operated by Chautauqua Airlines, were rebooked on other flights, US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant said.
   (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)