Travel

Creepy: Is Someone Hacking Airplane Intercoms?

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I don’t know what to make of this, but I find it to be very strange…

Reports of weird noises on airplane intercoms

The always insightful @xJonNYC has an interesting thread about some weird occurrences on airlines lately, involving the intercom.

The first report was from an American Airlines Boeing 737-800, where there were repeated hacking, moaning, and screaming noises over the PA. The flight attendants even stood by their phones throughout the cabin, to make sure no one was trying to use them.

When I first read that, I of course found it to be strange, but I didn’t think it was worth writing about. I figured maybe the source was incorrect, maybe a crew member was playing a prank, or maybe a passenger managed to get ahold of the PA. After all, surely airplane intercoms can’t be hacked from the ground, right?!

Well, @xJonNYC found a report of a passenger on Twitter, who had something similar happen within the past couple of weeks.

There’s even more. @xJonNYC also shares what I assume are messages from some sort of flight attendant messaging board, with similar reports, containing even more details.

Here’s one report from a flight attendant on an American Airbus A321T, which is downright creepy:

  • The pilot called back to the flight attendants to see if someone was trying to get in touch with the cockpit, since their phone kept going off; when they picked up, someone was breathing into the phone, but didn’t say anything
  • Then the phone would start going off in the cabin, but when the flight attendants picked up, there was just a tone sound
  • Then there would suddenly be loud breathing, groaning, and moaning noises over the PA, and “it sounded completely out of a horror film”
  • Then the master power button near the forward left door would keep getting pushed, and would shut down all IFE and seat power outlets
  • Allegedly the two business class flight attendants said they were on the same plane the other day, and the same thing happened
  • The flight attendant said they had a visual of each flight attendant every time this would happen over the PA

What on earth could explain this?!

Well this is creepy, isn’t it? There are enough reports here that I believe this all to be true. I feel pretty confident that this isn’t a prank by the crew, and I also feel comfortable that it’s not a passenger somehow accessing the PA.

I also find it interesting how all of these reports involve American Airlines planes (though different ones). I’m about as far as you could get from a tech expert (and conspiracy theorist, for that matter), but I’m trying to come up with reasonable explanations here. I can only come up with three explanations, and frankly none of them seem reasonable, really:

  • Is someone, somehow hacking the PA system on some American Airlines jets from the ground? Or maybe from onboard? I wonder if there’s a common passenger who has been on all of these flights…
  • Are these planes somehow haunted? I mean, different people will have different takes on that, but remember the alleged ghost sightings following the crash of Eastern Air Lines 401?
  • Is there somehow some very strange tech glitch that’s just causing plane systems to do weird things?

I feel like the first theory above is the most likely. But it’s absolutely terrifying to think that it would be possible to hack the intercom system on a plane from the ground, so I’d love to hear some other theories.

Bottom line

Weird stuff happens without explanation sometimes. However, we’ve now seen a few reports in recent weeks of intercoms on American Airlines planes seemingly being compromised. I’d like to think this is just a glitch or there’s some other innocent explanation, but that seems unlikely at this point, given the extent and detail of these reports.

Anyone have a theory as to what’s going on here?



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