Passport

Turns Out This is a Bad Time to Joke About Blowing Up a Plane

A flight from Poland to Egypt was grounded after a drunken passenger joked to the crew that he had brought a bomb on board.

skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum on December 29, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Penguins 2-1 in the shootout.
skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum on December 29, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Penguins 2-1 in the shootout.

The Islamic State released photos Wednesday of the bomb, hidden in a Schweppes can, that they claim to have used to down a Russian airliner late last month, killing 224 people. You’d think people would avoid bomb-related jokes, at least temporarily. And, given what happened on a Polish Small Planet airline flight Thursday, you’d be wrong.

A Polish passenger en route from Warsaw to Egypt jokingly told the cabin crew that he’d brought a bomb on board, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Bulgas, Bulgaria. Security forces there escorted passengers off the plane before inspecting it for bombs. They didn’t find one.

The 67-year-old passenger, whose name has not been released, was arrested and could reportedly face up to 15 years in prison.

Oddly enough, the poorly executed joke Thursday wasn’t the only alcohol-fueled mishap to take place aboard an international flight this week.

On Tuesday, an “unruly” female passenger grounded a British Airways flight from London to Boston by attempting to open the emergency exit door mid-flight. Police said the woman was intoxicated and noted, similar to the case in Bulgaria, there’s “no known nexus to terrorism at this time.”

Meanwhile, Thursday’s hunt for a nonexistent bomb after the passenger’s ill-considered joke might sound like it was a waste of time, but Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov managed to find an upside.

“A drunken Pole jabbering raised that kind of alert,” he said on public radio. “It was good training for us in case it’s real next time.”

BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images

Henry Johnson is a fellow at Foreign Policy. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in history and previously wrote for LobeLog. @HenryJohnsoon

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