Fake Hand Grenade Delays United Airlines Flight From Frankfurt

A United Airlines Boeing 767 flying from Frankfurt Airport to Washington Dulles Airport faced an hour-long delay on the ground yesterday. The flight had already left the gate when the Federal Police informed the captain that what looked like a hand grenade had been found in a piece of baggage that missed the flight.

United Airlines, Hand Grenade, Flight Delay
A United Airlines Boeing 767 was delayed departing Frankfurt after a ‘hand grenade’ was found in luggage bound for the flight. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Every now and again, somebody tries to get something through security that they shouldn’t have. Usually, it is an innocent mistake, but in the spirit of ‘safety first,’ it never hurts to be over cautious when checking that illicit items aren’t taken onto aircraft, either accidentally or deliberately.

A bizarre find in checked luggage

While unseen to the average passenger, all checked baggage bound for a flight undergoes security checks before being sent to the aircraft. Yesterday, these checks found something suspicious in a bag to be loaded onto United Airlines flight 814 to Washington Dulles.

United Airlines, Hand Grenade, Flight Delay
Can you spot the hand grenade? Photo: Bundespolizei – Frankfurt Airport

At roughly 17:15, an employee x-raying checked baggage noticed something odd inside the bag. The employee called the federal police. The item looked like a hand grenade on the x-ray, prompting the police to close off a large part of the baggage screening area.

United Airlines, Hand Grenade, Flight Delay
The flight came to a stop at a remote stand. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

The airport police officers called specialist colleagues trained to deal with explosive threats. Meanwhile, flight UA814 had already left the gate area at 17:20, starting its taxi to the runway, according to data from FlightRadar24.com. At 17:40, the aircraft stopped on a remote stand as the federal police notified the captain of the incident.

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Not a live grenade

Thankfully, the grenade was not at risk of exploding, a fact confirmed by the police after examining the object. According to the police force, the grenade had been deactivated to allow it to be placed on the ‘steampunk sculpture’, and thus never posed any danger. While the security incident was unfolding, the 56-year-old American responsible for the suitcase sat on the plane, blissfully unaware that he had prompted the delay.

United Airlines, Hand Grenade, Flight Delay
The hand grenade had been deactivated before it was added to the artwork. Photo: Bundespolizei – Frankfurt Airport

The flight left the remote stand at 18:26. It had been due to take off at 17:25. Unsurprisingly the aircraft departed late. It eventually took off at 18:47, around 85 minutes after its scheduled departure. The nine-hour flight was completed in eight and a half hours, but sadly this wasn’t enough to stop the plane from arriving late in Washington. The flight eventually landed 56 minutes late at 21:16. The flight flew to Washington without the passenger’s bag, which will travel on a later flight.

United Airlines, Hand Grenade, Flight Delay
The flight eventually continued to Washington Dulles without further incident. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

N669UA operated the flight. According to data from ch-avitation.com, the plane is a 22.15 years old Boeing 767, having been delivered to United Airlines in June 1999. It seats 167 passengers across four classes of seating. Despite the delay causing the aircraft to leave Washington an hour late, it arrived in Frankfurt again, 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

A United Airlines spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“United flight 815 (Frankfurt – Washington Dulles) on 3 August 2021 was delayed following a request by local law enforcement. The aircraft departed at 18:29 local time.”

Would you have realized there was a grenade in the sculpture? Let us know what you think and why in the comments down below!