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Top 5 Infamous Airline Hoaxes!

September 09 2015

The recent news about the hoax calls by a Bengaluru techie had everyone flummoxed. However, aviation companies and travellers are not amused one bit. In fact, reports suggest that the five airlines and 1200 odd travellers lost close to $1 million due to such misadventures.

However, this isn't the first time an anonymous phone call affected a company and the people involved. Since 9/11, airports and airlines around the world have witnessed an unprecedented evolution in terms of security and passenger screening. Nowadays, at any airport, whether it be domestic or international, one is greeted to the sight of gun-toting uniformed personnel with canine support.

While all these measures have definitely increased safety, yet the menace of hoax calls continues to plague security agencies, airport authorities and airlines. In fact, the incidents of hoax calls, false bomb threats and hijacking threats have risen to alarming levels with more and more airlines as well as passengers suffering immense financial loss due to the cancellation or delay of flights.

Here are the top five hoax calls and their impact on airlines and passengers.

1.Hoax Calling For Love

A 33-year-old man in France allegedly phoned in a bomb threat to the Bordeaux-Merignac regional airport so that his girlfriend would not miss her flight. Parts of the airport were immediately closed and the police searched the entire terminal. After a swift investigation, which found zero explosives, the caller was identified and arrested about 12 miles from the airport.

2.Bomb scare aboard Turkish Airlines

On March 30th 2015, a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Brazil was forced to land in Morocco when a note with the word "Bomb" was found by a passenger in the flight. Although the flight landed safely after issuing an emergency warning, all the 256 passengers on board were stranded at the terminal for more than three hours.

3.Hoax message results in emergency landing

A Turkish airlines flight bound for Tokyo returned to Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport after the cabin crew discovered a message "C-4 Cargo" (a type of plastic explosive) in the lavatory. After immediately notifying the pilot, they made an emergency landing. Police teams searched the entire cabin and cargo sections, however no explosives were found.

4.WestJet flights suffered five bomb threats in a week!

Disruption to five WestJet flights left passengers worried as the airlines dealt with halted operations and route diversions. Although nothing suspicious was found during any of the incidents, havoc ensued when airports shut down to inbound and outbound flights and six passengers suffered minor injuries during the evacuation process.

5.Hoax calls halt four international flights at NYC

US military jets escorted an Air France flight into New York City after someone claimed that a chemical weapon was aboard the aircraft. At the same time, a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, an American Airlines flight and a United Airlines flight were also being searched because of another threat. The State Police revealed that they received an anonymous call threatening commercial aviation but refused to divulge any further information.

And this is why travel insurance is a must...

Besides the financial impact on airlines and emergency personnel, such hoaxes are also an infringement of the law. According to Section 66A of the IT Act, communicating a false message for causing annoyance, inconvenience, or needless anxiety to others is liable for up to life imprisonment with a hefty fine. More stringent laws and extensive awareness campaigns can really make a difference, as the fear of penalties along with a sense of empathy towards the passengers will aid in greatly reducing the scourge of airline hoaxes.

Having said that, the biggest downside of hoaxes for passengers is the delay/cancellation of flights due to security concerns. Besides the anxiety and headaches of finding alternate flights or having to sit at the airport for hours unsure of flight resumption, such events can exact a brutal toll on your finances.

This is where travel insurance comes as a blessing as it offers a financial cushion by covering the expenses incurred due to flight delays and cancellations. Hence, regardless of whether your trip is short one or a long one, it’s the wisest move to opt for travel insurance before embarking.

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