Prof on a Plane Accused of Terrorist Activity

MenzioGuido Menzio, an associate professor and economist at the University of Pennsylvania is an unlikely terrorist, but he was a suspect nonetheless. Menzio's seatmate on an American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse found his answers curt and became worried when she saw him drawing something cryptic. She cleverly slipped a flight attendant a note, and the crew turned the plane around and started asking Menzio some questions.

A Washington Post article says he was "ethnically profiled" as a someone Middle Eastern, although he is Italian. Turns out, Menzio wasn't trying to overtake the plane but was working out a price-setting model for a presentation.

The woman boarded another plane and has not been identified for comment.

The airline seems embarrassed by the incident. Of course, Menzio was quickly cleared, but the flight was delayed more than two hours. The Post summarizes Menzio's reaction:

Menzio for his part says he was "treated respectfully throughout," though he remains baffled and frustrated by a "broken system that does not collect information efficiently." He is troubled by the ignorance of his fellow passenger, as well as "A security protocol that is too rigid–in the sense that once the whistle is blown everything stops without checks–and relies on the input of people who may be completely clueless.

Discussion Starters:

  • It's interesting that Menzio says he was treated respectfully. Would you agree? What could he mean by that? 
  • What action, if any, should be taken against the woman passenger? The airline crew? 
  • Should the woman apologize? If so, how?