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AirDrop message containing bomb threat delays American Airlines flight

Here's why you never keep your devices discoverable on AirDrop at all times.

Published onFebruary 22, 2023

iPhone 12 airdrop
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
  • A juvenile has been arrested for sending out a bomb threat to passengers aboard an American Airlines flight via AirDrop.
  • The person used the iOS service to tell passengers they would like to share a photo of a bomb they are carrying.
  • The plane was carrying 125 passengers and eight crew members.

A juvenile suspect has been arrested for sending out bomb threats to passengers aboard an American Airlines flight. The plane carrying 125 passengers and eight crew members was flying out of El Paso International Airport. It was delayed by four hours after iOS-using passengers received the following message via AirDrop: “I have a bomb would like to share a photo.”

AirDrop, Apple’s proprietary wireless file transfer service, can be used to share photos, videos, and other types of files between iOS devices. The sender and receivers must be nearby and within Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range. However, iPhone, Mac, or iPad users need to allow AirDrop to receive items or make their devices discoverable for someone to send them something using the service. The incident is a reminder not to keep this setting activated at all times.

macos airdrop settings

In this case, the unnamed juvenile confessed to sending out a threat via AirDrop. However, before the suspect’s arrest, the bomb squad had to sweep the whole aircraft. Thankfully, passengers, luggage, and all other areas of the airplane were found negative for explosives.

The threat “was mitigated and deemed non-credible,” according to a news release sent out by the Texas Department of Public Safety (via KTSM).

Meanwhile, the police seized the juvenile’s phone and found evidence of the prank AirDrop message on it. The El Paso County Attorney’s Office will prosecute the person for false alarm or report.

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