Flight evacuated after teenager sends passengers picture of toy gun

·2 min read
Airsoft guns look similar to genuine firearms (AFP/Getty Images)
Airsoft guns look similar to genuine firearms (AFP/Getty Images)

A flight in the US was evacuated after a teenager sent pictures of a toy gun to other passengers onboard.

The Orlando-bound United Airlines flight was due to depart from San Francisco on 22 July when several passengers received the photo via Airdrop, a service that allows sharing between Apple devices.

The unnamed teen had shared an image of a realistic-looking Airsoft gun, reported KNTV.

All travellers were evacuated off the plane out of “an abundance of caution”, according to an airport spokesperson.

They were subjected to an extra security screening before everyone, barring the culprit, was allowed to reboard the aircraft.

It later transpired that the teenager did not have the replica firearm on his person and that the photo had been taken elsewhere at an earlier date.

“United flight 2167 departing from San Francisco to Orlando was delayed due to a security issue involving a customer on board,” said a United Airlines spokesperson.

“Law enforcement officials were notified and our teams are working with them to review this matter. As a precaution, all customers deplaned and were rescreened before the flight departed.”

It’s not the first time an Airdrop message has disrupted air travel.

In 2019, a plane was evacuated after someone used the feature to send a photograph of a suicide vest to passengers and flight attendants on board.

Authorities said the Florida-bound plane was about to take off from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey when the image was widely shared on board.

A member of the crew on JetBlue flight 573 alerted the captain, who informed authorities.

The plane returned to the gate and the 150 people on board were asked to leave the aircraft.

Their luggage was rescreened and examined by police bomb-sniffing K-9 dogs.

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