There is nothing funny about an apparent hoax that targeted a Philadelphia man and inconvenienced scores of people on a commercial jet Thursday.
Philadelphia International Airport police received a call Thursday morning that a specific US Airways passenger was carrying a dangerous substance on a flight to Dallas, The Associated Press reports.
Taking the threat serious - as they must - officials had the jet return to Philadelphia, where it was searched and a man was taken into custody. Nothing was found in the search, and police later said the initial suspect was a victim of "a pretty nasty trick" and had done nothing wrong.
Christopher Shell later told the AP that he was the target of the hoax.
But there is nothing funny about this incident, and Shell wasn't laughing when he was taken off the plane by five heavily armed officers with their guns drawn.
We doubt the other 68 passengers and five crew members found any humor in having their travel schedules needlessly interrupted. And certainly the police and other law enforcement personnel who had to be mobilized for a fruitless search didn't take any delight.
We are just days from the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that drastically changed our nation's sense of security and the rules under which people fly aboard commercial planes.
Even with the extra security, some have tried to target passenger jets in new attacks that fortunately for us have not been successful.
Given all of this, authorities have no choice but to take threats seriously because of the potentially deadly consequences if they don't.
The last thing anyone needs is someone thinking that calling in a hoax is funny.
Authorities should make finding this prankster a priority. Then we'll see whether he or she still thinks calling in a hoax is funny.