US flight diverted after tefillin causes bomb scare

Teen praying on Kentucky-bound flight raises uproar among passengers; aircraft lands in Philadelphia as youth explains origins of ritual to crew.

January 21, 2010 18:58
US flight diverted after tefillin causes bomb scare

tefillin 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Authorities say a misunderstanding about a Jewish prayer ritual led to the diversion of a US Airways flight to Philadelphia on Thursday.

City police Lt. Frank Vanore said a 17-year-old boy on the plane was using tefillin.

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Tefillin is a set of small black boxes attached to leather straps and containing biblical passages. One box is strapped to the arm; the other box is placed on the head.

Vanore said the crew on US Airways Flight 3079 questioned the teen, who explained the ritual. Still, the pilot decided to land in Philadelphia.

The flight had left La Guardia airport in New York on Thursday morning bound for Louisville, Kentucky. It landed without incident in Philadelphia around 9 a.m.

Vanore said the teen has been very cooperative with law enforcement.

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