A Frontier Airlines flight from Cincinnati to Tampa was diverted to Atlanta when it was discovered a passenger on the flight had a box cutter and other reports indicated he was threatening "to stab" fellow passengers.
Box cutters was the primary weapon hijackers used during the attacks on 9/11. At the time they were allowed on airplanes, as was any blade as long as it did not exceed four inches in length. Following the attacks box cutters and other bladed articles were banned from carry-on luggage and could only be placed in checked luggage. Initial reports are this passenger had two box cutters in his possession.
The Frontier emergency landing was a result of the crew following a specific threat protocol. Once the captain was informed of the situation an immediate lockdown of the flight deck was completed, following the activation of the fasten seat belt sign. The crew then began procedures to land at the closest airport, which was a task that took nearly 20 minutes to complete. Law enforcement was notified so they could stand by on arrival and the flight attendants initiated their security protocol on the flight since they had no way of knowing if others had restricted items with them as well.
The Frontier crew did exactly what they were trained to do because the introduction of a restricted item on a flight where every passenger was to be screened by the TSA creates a situation where nothing can be taken for granted. The passenger with the knife may have been alone or he could have been a part of a team of people who had a terrorist intent during the flight. If one knife made it through security, then other items may have as well and that unknown is what forced the Frontier response.
Once the plane landed security teams responded and removed the man and the remaining passengers were given overnight accommodations in Atlanta and completed their journey to Tampa the following day.
How the two box cutters made it through the Cincinnati security checkpoint remains unanswered, but an investigation has been launched. The investigation will look to see if the man was able to get the restricted items past the security checkpoint or we will see if any assistance was rendered from an airport employee who has the ability to bypass the security checkpoint.
Either way, the story has a good ending in that everyone was safe and hopefully we can improve the security measures at the Cincinnati airport - and elsewhere - as a result of the investigation.
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