AirDrop fumble grounds flight for 90 minutes

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Hawaiian Airlines
Use AirDrop with caution on a plane.
Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

A teenage girl grounded an Hawaiian Airlines flight for 90 minutes by accidentally sending fake crime scene photos to other passengers over AirDrop.

Flight 23 was already taxiing the runway on Friday morning when passengers started reporting their concerns to the crew. The 15-year-old distributor was trying to send photos from her high school medical-biology class to her mother.

The gruesome photo depicts what looks like a dead child, face-down in a crime scene surrounded by numerical markers. Around 15 passengers received the image when the girl attempted to send it to her mother, who had just started using a new iPhone.

That’s went things went downhill.

Photo-sharing fail

Passengers who received the image were obviously concerned and started reporting the incident to the flight crew. The crew showed the images to the pilot, who made the decision to return to the gate where police could investigate.

After questioning the teenage girl and her mother, officers determined the “child” in the photo was actually a mannequin, and the whole thing was a scary accident.

“All in all everybody did everything right,” explained Alameda County Sgt. Ray Kelly to Buzzfeed News. “The passengers did the right thing by alerting the flight crew, and the flight crew did the right thing by trying to figure out if there was a valid threat or not.”

The girl was “very embarrassed,” Kelly added, and “she was actually crying, so we had to console her a little bit — it was OK, it was a mistake.”

After police determined that no actual crime had taken place, the mother and daughter were booked onto a later flight. But that wasn’t the last scare for passengers of flight 23.

‘Everyone was coughing and then we were coughing’

After a 90-minute delay, flight 23 was finally in the air. Then, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, passengers started noticing a strange smell and people started coughing. A bottle of pepper spray had gone off and filled the front cabin.

“Everyone was coughing and then we were coughing,” Nicholas Andrade, a passenger on the flight, told the Associated Press. “And the flight attendants were covering their faces and passengers started covering their faces.”

“People were definitely panicked,” he added.

The captain reportedly asked around 40 passengers to stand at the back of the 26-year-old plane for almost an hour until it was safe to return to the front. The flight from Oakland to Maui eventually landed safely.