A United Airlines flight headed out of San Fransisco International Airport was hurriedly deboarded Thursday afternoon after staff aboard the plane announced an urgent threat. Someone was AirDropping “inappropriate pictures” onto passenger’s phones, and everyone on board needed to be evacuated and re-screened before they could take off.
Those pics apparently featured an airsoft gun, SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel told a local NBC affiliate. After multiple passengers reported getting the threatening photos dropped onto their iPhones, Yakel told the station that everyone was taken off “out of an abundance of caution.”
AirDrop, for uninterested Android users or anyone else who doesn’t already know, is a feature available on Apple devices that allows users to wirelessly send photos and videos to other iOS or Mac users. Users can restrict who’s allowed to send them photos, but some people leave their AirDop settings wide open, allowing anyone within dropping range to ping you with potentially unsolicited images.
The plane — United Airlines Flight 2167, which was set to depart from San Fransisco to Orlando — was already facing a slew of delays before this happened. At some point after the AirDrop prank took place, Yakel explained, they found their culprit: a teenage boy, who ended up being booted off the flight.
It’s unclear how they eventually caught the mystery AirDropper. In the past, we’ve seen people use the Apple feature to anonymously send everything from unsolicited dick pics to random memes, much to the horror of unlucky passersby. It’s possible that the teen forgot to change the name his phone used for AirDropping, which means anyone who saw the random gun pictures would have also been notified exactly who sent them. Or maybe — because AirDropping only works within roughly 9.14 m of the person doing the drops — they were able to triangulate which passenger was the right distance from everyone who had gotten the photo.
What we do know is two things: First, as Yakel told the NBC station, the photo “was taken at an earlier date and at a location not at an airport,” and the teen didn’t have the gun anywhere on him. That’s good news, since the gun featured in the photos could inflict some minor injuries to passengers, or the people actually flying the plane. (Or, at the very least, scare the ever-living crap out of everyone.) And second, we know that teen is a dumbass.
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