Well, there is certainly going to be a large discussion about the flight from Laguardia airport that was detained in Philadelphia earlier today. So I thought i'd add my two sense before others use my same ideas.
First, let's not begin to give this kid nicknames, like the "Tephilin Terrorist," "Philadelphia Flyer," "Shacharis Standoff" or "Midair Mix-up." While these names may be humorous, they are wrong. We should leave it up to the late-night talk show hosts (who I can't wait to watch tonight) to label this incident.
Secondly, I want to point out that the flight crew acted responsibly. They did what they were supposed to do. Those who are going to say that there is a constitutional right for freedom to practice religion, are correct. However, safety of others comes first. The flight attendant did not recognize tephilin. It looked suspicious. She acted accordingly, and should be commended.
The 17-year-old acted correctly as well. He cooperated with authorities. He created no disturbance. He was a gentleman.* The only question I have for him is why he needed to daven on the plane. I understand zemanim and everything, but e should have planned ahead so that he should not have needed to daven on the plane in the first place. I could be dan l'kav z'chus and say that he did plan ahead, but was held up for some unforeseen reason, but it's easier not to.
Next, those who are ripping the New York Times article for referring to the passenger as a "disruptive passenger"should reread the article. This phrase was quoted from the local authorities, not made up by the reporter. He was simply quoting his sources, who by the way, he specified. I'm not one to defend the Times, but in this case, it looks like some of you are just nitpicking.
The more interesting side of the story comes from the Philadelphia Fox affiliate. This cite has three reports at three different times. The earliest one (which is last in the viewing list) refers to the passenger as "apparently caused some kind of disturbance on the plane." This is what was being reported. It's just the way the news-wires received it.
There is no reason to act with any alarm. Everyone did what they were supposed to do. The flight crew acted appropriately. The teenager responded well. The terrorism unit in the airport did its job. It was an unfortunate event that caused alarm. Let's hope this story ends here.
*Put it on his shiduch resume