Several travelers aboard a Thomson Airways flight experienced a delay after one passenger came across a Wi-Fi hotspot titled “Jihadist Cell London 1”. The flight was scheduled to take off from Cancun, Mexico and fly to London’s Gatwick Airport. However, after the Wi-Fi hotspot was spotted, personnel had to evacuate the flyers in order to conduct a sweep of the entire aircraft. The incident comes at a time when the UK is recovering from a recent terrorist attack at Manchester, where a suicide bombing attack left 22 people dead.
The person responsible for the hotspot name was not identified and eventually, the flight had to be rescheduled. According to one of the passengers, a Carey Middleton, everything seemed fine for a while until the captain made an announcement about a fellow passenger spotting a hotspot name called “Jihadi London”. The captain is believed to have mentioned that the Wi-Fi hotspot was discovered exclusively on his aircraft and that it was a matter of grave concern. The captain is also believed to have requested the person responsible to identify himself/herself.
However, no one had come forward claiming responsibility, after which, the police had to be called in. Middleton also said that the captain and the crew members were constantly walking up and down the aisle and that the anxiety levels were quite high inside the aircraft. The captain reportedly requested passengers to bear with him and that he understood the concern they had. Around 30 minutes later, the passengers had been told that there was no apparent risk. By then, anxiety and frustration had already set in, especially among younger travelers.
Despite reports of no apparent risk and a promise from the captain that he would not let the flight take off without a 100% guarantee on safety, some passengers refused to fly and insisted on leaving. This led to further delays as the crew was tasked with helping the concerned passengers exit the aircraft and collect their baggage. The flight had then been rescheduled to take off the next day from Cancun. The captain also promised that there would be tighter security to ensure safety. The passengers were put up at a hotel for an overnight stay.
Following the exit, there was plenty of chaos at the terminal as well, as armed police officials positioned themselves all over the place along with military personnel and sniffer dogs. The passengers were requested to go back through security and reclaim their baggage. It is believed that the entire process took another 30 minutes. Following the incident, Thomson Airways issued a statement apologising to all its customers for the delay. In the statement, the operator mentioned that the delay was caused as a result of a possible security threat. Thomson also mentioned that a complete security check of the aircraft was conducted as a precautionary measure and that arrangements had been made for the flight to depart from Cancun the very next day.
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