Posts: 4516
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2001 12:35 pm

Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 1:30 am

Flight Attendant Charged Over Mid-Air Bomb Hoax
Last Updated: March 29, 2002 07:05 AM ET
Print This Article

NEWARK, N.J. (Reuters) - A Virgin Atlantic flight attendant suspected of writing a false al Qaeda bomb threat was ordered held on $250,000 bail on Thursday after U.S. authorities charged him with claiming to have found the note on a transatlantic flight that was then diverted to Iceland.

Michael Philippe, 25, of France was being held at a New Jersey county jail on the cash bail ordered by U.S. Magistrate Ronald Hedges in U.S. District Court in Newark.

Officials charge that the Jan. 19 flight from London bound for Orlando, Florida, was diverted after Philippe reported to the flight's captain and another attendant that he had found the misspelled message reading "Bin Laden is the best Americans must die there is a bomb on board Al Quaida" written on an airsickness bag in the plane's toilet.

A second message "American must die" was written on a mirror, he is alleged to have told the crew members.

Based on matching fingerprints and handwriting, the FBI believes Philippe wrote the messages, an FBI agent's affidavit said.

Icelandic police searched the plane after it landed in Keflavik and found no threat, the FBI said. The plane continued on to Orlando the next day.

Philippe was charged on Thursday in a U.S. District Court in Florida with intimidating a flight crew and aircraft and interference with a flight crew -- one of numerous alarms over security on board airplanes since the Sept. 11 hijackings and attacks on the United States by Islamic militants linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Philippe faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

U.S. marshals are expected to transport Philippe to Orlando soon to face charges in a federal court there, FBI spokeswoman Sara Oates said in Tampa, Florida.

Oates would not comment on whether additional charges would be made.

FBI agents arrested Philippe on Wednesday night at Newark Airport on his way to board a flight on which he was to work, the FBI said.

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 2:18 am

This is bad news for Virgin. Bin Laden and Branson both have beards. Maybe there is a connection?
Posts: 3398
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2001 10:18 pm

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 2:43 am

It's hard to believe any Flight Attendant would be stupid enough to do this... If he did, what an idiot. Still no reason to imprison him for 20 years (he should be fired and fined, but prison is a bit harsh)


Posts: 877
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2001 11:54 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 3:11 am

20 YEARS?!?!?!?!?

That IMO is no where near enough. he has probably cost Virgin thousands of dollars in damage... it is a very jumpy time for pax as it is... some people simply dont fly any more, and to hoax something like that in flight may have put people off flying more...

If i had my say id call for the death penalty (after he compensated everyone he put out).

Only MY opinion tho.
Posts: 348
Joined: Tue May 15, 2001 11:38 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 3:57 am

Thousands of dollars? Try somewhere into the millions. Think of the cost of just diverting the AC to Keflavik. You have the landing fees, additional fuel and fueling fees. Then you have the cost of putting up every pax for the night. There is also the cost of making alternative travel arrangements for other pax and compensating those whose vacations were ruined. The plane was headed for MCO so think of the tour packages that were ruined. Furthermore, you have the costs associated with having one your AC out of rotation. That means reshuffling the fleet in a way that you can continue to operate the rest of your flights. This will result in delays at some stations which again may mean having to make alternative travel arrangements for some pax and being fined by the respective port authorities for hogging the stand. We've paid thru the nose for that day to say the least. There goes my profit sharing!

Some may find it hard to believe he would be stupid enough to do this but the evidence is pretty damning. Prison is not a harsh punishment at all. This is a federal offense.

If he's found guilty, he won't get any sympathy from me. Short of joining the ranks of Mr. Attah and company, this was a very dispicable and irrespoonsible act. Only a very hateful person could write something like that. Think of the victims' families (not to mention now what this guy's putting his own family through).

As far as bad press - IMHO, I don't think so. Not to much hubbub is being made about it here or in the UK - just a passing mention. The only negative impact so far was the delay we incurred for the flight he was working.
Posts: 3398
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2001 10:18 pm

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 4:23 am

EWRvirgin: Think of whose victim's families? Surely you can't mean the victims of his idiotic prank? If you mean the victims of the WTC attacks, their families won't give a sh*t about some jerk's opinions and actions. And I disagree that "only a very hateful person could write something like that". Any foolish retard with some weird desire to cause mayhem could write something like that. the type of person who would spread white powder all over the place after the real Anthrax attacks in order to derive a bit of pleasure out of the spectacle he creates.

All he cost the airline was money, all the damage he did to people was time (and a little scare maybe). For that, a 1-year prison sentence would be more than adequate... although I still think that a (big) fine would be enough.

Anyway, even in the angry mood Americans might be in right now, I don't think he'll be sentenced to 20 years in prison. At least I hope he won't - it'd be extreme punishment completely out of proportion to the folly he comitted.

Err, and what profit share are you talking about? I did not realize Virgin Atlantic was about to make any profit this year, or last year....


Posts: 1097
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2001 5:04 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 4:39 am

EWR, are you comparing this FA with Atta and the rest of the hijackers? That is the impression I got for reading from reading your post. Everyone needs to get real. No one thinks this guy's joke was funny, however murders don't spend 20 years in prison in this country. This guy will get 3 years, tops.

Also, if this flight diverted to Iceland it was likely over international airspace and it's not a United States carrier. Why is he being held in this country in the first place and why in Florida? I know Florida was the final destination, but what does that have to do with anything?
Posts: 2914
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2002 11:33 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 5:13 am

20 years is way to harsh, make him pay all the money back.

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 5:34 am

Yeah, fine that S.O.B. all the millions and millions of British pounds that he owes in compensation!
Posts: 4516
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2001 12:35 pm

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 5:47 am

I would be more interested to know why he did it. It cannot be construed as a terrorist act, so I think it unlikely to link him to that, if he were a a terrorist, or had terrorist instincts etc, he would have tried to bring the plane down, not just write a note.

Maybe he wanted to have an extended layover in Newark, The Strokes were playing that night

Posts: 348
Joined: Tue May 15, 2001 11:38 am

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 5:56 am

OK guys, let me address a few of your points and questions. When I said "think of the victims' families" I was referring to 9/11. Ikarus, you are probably right - they couldn't care less. I was just highlighting how insensitive and, yes, hateful one has to be to write such remarks on a wall in light of such a tragedy. He is not a "foolish retard" but an adult put in a position of high responsiblity who I'm confident knows right from wrong. I'm certainly not putting him on the same level as Atta but I'd put him pretty low on the totem pole.

Its not just a loss of money. Its not just a prank. It may be a bit cliched but I'm sure you've heard the story about the boy who cried wolf. He may not get 20 and he might not even deserve 20 but he certainly deserves more than a year (a slap on the wrist).

It may have been international airspace, but there were a significant number US citizens on board and the flight was headed for the US. A crime was committed. Someone had to pursue it. It might as well have been Uncle Sam. Why haven't the British pursued this? What's the point? Now he's facing extradition to Florida.

Finally, profit sharing was suspended only after the events of 9/11. It has been deferred until such a time when the company is in a better position. So let me assure you that, even though the company may not be profiting at the moment, that diversion has hit us employees in the wallet.
Posts: 228
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2000 1:06 pm

RE: Virgin Atlantic FA Arrested At EWR

Tue Apr 02, 2002 10:43 am

I'm right there with you EWRVirgin. The British didn't do anything, so the US finally stepped up to take care of this idiot. Maybe we can throw this clown on the treshhold of 4L when they are taking off!  Smile
Open your heart and push the limits

Popular Searches On

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos