American Airlines Sets the Record Straight on Ivy League Economist Who Was Questioned While Doing Math: No Employees 'Accused This Man of Anything'
05/07/2016 AT 07:50 PM EDT
According to the spokesperson, Menzio was questioned by the captain an unidentified number of crew members after his female seatmate, who forced the plane to abort its taxi to the runway so she could deplane, told the flight crew his odd writings and curt responses in accented English to her questions made her suspect that he was a terrorist. She had originally cited illness as her reason for leaving the plane.
"At some point the male passenger approached the flight crew to ask about the woman's well being," said Norton, noting the conversation took place on the jet way, away from the other passengers after Flight 3950 returned to the gate at 8:36 p.m. "There should not be any [insinuation] that he was detained or removed from the aircraft. This gentleman initiated the conversation."
After the flight's captain and an unidentified number of other airline representatives spoke to Menzio, the captain determined the woman's fear was unfounded. The approximately 40-minute flight left at 9:42 p.m., says Norton.
Norton added that the conversation was somewhat casual and noted Menzio told the Washington Post" that there was some chuckling during the conversation before he returned to his seat.
"No one from American Airlines accused this man of anything," added Norton.
The woman, who The Washington Post identified as 30-something woman wearing flip-flops, opted to take a later American Airlines flight to the same destination, said Norton.
Menzio, who has held a tenured associate professorship at the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Princeton and Stanford University's Hoover Institution, was writing differential equations. Those mathematical equations are complex and often contain Greek letters.
It's unclear if the unidentified woman was notified that the man was simply a scholar working on complex equations.
Norton declined to estimate how often incidents of this nature occur on flights operated by American Airlines or its partners. He also declined to comment on how other airline passengers should react in similar circumstances.