An University of Pennsylvania professor was interrogated on a plane—delaying the flight—because another passenger reportedly the math equations he was writing were an indication he was a terrorist.
According to The Washington Post, Guido Menzio, an Italian economics professor, was flying from Philadelphia to Syracuse on an Air Wisconsin-operated flight on Thursday and was working on a math equation. A woman sitting near him reported that she was ill and told crew members she was concerned about Menzio’s behavior.
American Airlines, which partners with Air Wisconsin, spokesman Casey Norton confirmed the 7:20 p.m. flight had been delayed for nearly two hours. The pilot and the crew determined there was not a threat, and the flight took off shortly before 9:45 p.m. Norton declined to name either passenger.
Menzio confirmed his identity and the story to The Washington Post. On Facebook, he recounted the “unbelievable” experience, where he said the woman next to him handed a note to the flight attendant when the flight appeared ready to take off.
“They ask me about my neighbor,” he wrote, according to the Guardian. “I tell them I noticed nothing strange. They tell me she thought I was a terrorist because I was writing strange things on a pad of paper. I laugh. I bring them back to the plane. I showed them my math.”
Menzio told The Washington Post that he was “treated respectfully throughout” the experience, but he is “troubled” about the security protocol that “relies on the input of people who may be completely clueless.”
The passenger chose to take another flight, Norton said.