Menzio is a highly respected Ivy League economist and a professor at the
University of Pennsylvania, but on a plane he looked like a terrorist to
another passenger on a flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse.
The short 45-minute flight was delayed a few hours after Menzio didn’t
engage in small talk with a female seatmate on board the flight and she
became suspicious. Instead of idle chit chat, Menzio worked on a math
equation for a speech he was due to give after landing in Syracuse.
The economist has olive skin, curly dark hair and an intriguing foreign
accent from his native country of Italy. The woman asked Menzio if he
was from Syracuse, as this is where the American Airlines flight was
headed once it got off the runway. Menzio simply said “no” and continued
with his fixation on the equation as the woman continued to try and
strike up a conversation with the 40-year-old professor.
Before the plane got off the runway, the 30-something blond-haired woman
wearing flip-flops and carrying a red duffle bag called the flight
attendant over to her and said was sick. She then handed the attendant a
note, reports MSN News on May 8. The plane turned around and went back
to the gate and the woman was taken off the plane. After that the pilot
made his way to the back of the plane and asked Menzio if he would come
with him to talk.
Menzio was taken off the plane and an agent was there to speak with him.
He was told that the woman who had been sitting next to him thought that
he was a terrorist and reported that he had been writing down another
language, possibly Arabic. Menzio explained that “other language” was a
math equation for his speech in Syracuse. After a little bit of
questioning, Menzio got back on the flight and although they had a two
hour delay, the flight made it to Syracuse. The woman had opted to take
Menzio said he was treated kindly, but he believes this is the type of
mindset people like Donald Trump are promoting. He suggested that this
profiling has its core in the “rising xenophobia” seen in the campaign