A US airline delayed a flight on Sunday evening after an unidentified person somewhere in or around Los Angeles International Airport picked a rather unfortunate name for a Wi-Fi hotspot.
American Airlines Flight 136 from Los Angeles to London was grounded for nearly a day after a passenger spotted a Wi-Fi network named "Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork" (sic).
According to local news reports, the passenger alerted a flight attendant to the matter. The plane was then taken to a remote part of the airport and detained for what crew initially termed a "maintenance issue," with passengers kept onboard for several hours before eventually being returned to the gate.
The flight, which was originally scheduled to depart on Sunday at 7:50pm, was delayed until the following day while investigators looked into possible threats.
No danger to the plane was found, and investigators eventually cleared the flight to depart on Monday at around 1pm. No word was given on whether the
dumbass joker who gave the unfortunate name to his or her hotspot was caught.
Among the passengers stranded in the incident was UK Government Communications Service head of digital communications Anthony Simon, who was understandably miffed by the ordeal.
As security analyst Graham Cluley noted, however, if someone was intending to disrupt air travel, they were rather effective in this case.
"One thing is clear. If a real terrorist wanted to disrupt an air flight they don’t have to go to the effort of sneaking in explosives or phoning in a bomb threat," Cluley wrote. "They can just create a Wi-Fi hotspot with a suspicious-looking name."
It goes without saying that airports are not the place for jokes about terrorism. Staff are cautioned to react strongly to each and every threat, and jokes – even those buried within Wi-Fi networks – get taken seriously by the Transportation Security Administration, airlines, and airport officials. ®