Wegal Rosen, 74, checking in at the Fort Lauderdale airport to fly home to Toronto, was angered by the carry-on baggage fee
Shari Kulha • Jul 13, 2021
First, you read the fine print before purchasing a ticket. You know up front what extra fees — say, for baggage — that you’re going to be responsible for. Then, when you get miffed at check-in, being told you have to pay to take your carry-on on board, you don’t walk away, leave the bag and tell the agent there’s a bomb in it.
A 74-year-old Toronto man, checking in at the Fort Lauderdale airport to fly home for a cardiologist appointment, became overstressed about the fee and walked off in a huff, muttering about an explosive device in his bag. Security shut three terminals of the international airport, and within minutes eight flights were cancelled, some 50 flights delayed, and travellers ferried outside to wait four hours while security and threat-management teams did their due diligence — including closing area roads, which, causing traffic jams, expanded the incident area beyond the airport.
Wegal Rosen found himself arrested instead of on-boarded.
The Deerfield Beach resident was taken to the Broward Main Jail for a weekend think. On Monday, he appeared in court, where bond was set at US$20,000.
Security at any airport is on high alert at all times, but a 2017 incident at the same airport taught them not to take this man’s threat lightly. A gunman had opened fire in the baggage claim area, killing five people and wounding six. The attack saw panicked travellers running out of the terminal and onto the tarmac.
If convicted of the second-degree felony, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel says, Rosen could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and be fined US$10,000. And he could be on the hook for restitution to cover the costs and damages arising from his false bomb threat.
The judge said he could fly back to Toronto only after posting bail. But she warned Rosen that he would have to find an alternative route home.
“You cannot return to the Fort Lauderdale airport, Mr. Rosen, do you understand?” He said he did.
According to the Washington Post, his lawyer acknowledged that Rosen had “said the magic words you do not say.”
Oh, and in the bag he left by the ticket agent’s desk? His CPAP machine for treating sleep apnea.