An embarrassing story has remerged of how a professor was stopped on a plane for scribbling in a 'foreign language' which turned out to be maths.

In 2016, Guido Menzio, an economics professor from the University of Pennsylvania found himself in this uncomfortable situation while on an American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse.

The Italian born professor was sitting next to a woman on the flight who claimed that she wasn't feeling well and needed to be escorted off the plane, the Mirror reports.

Once she away from him she informed the flight crew that Guido had been scribbling suspicious notes in a 'foreign language' on a piece of paper. Later it turned out be a maths equation.

American Airlines spokesperson Casey Norton told Buzzfeed News that at one point, Menzio even expressed concern to see if the woman was okay – little did he know.

It was at this point that an awkward conversation took place between the captain and Menzio to confirm that the scribblings of a ‘foreign language’ were just, well…maths.

Speaking to The Washington Post, he said that the pilot ‘seemed embarrassed’ when he learnt that the nosy neighbour's doubts were nothing but paranoia, and that he was just preparing for a talk at Queen’s University on a working paper about menu costs and price dispersion.

The flight eventually took off after a two hour hold up and the woman, who he declined to name, decided to take a separate flight that evening.

At least some reddit users saw the jovial side of this rather awkward situation, with one joking "weapons of math destruction", while another said "it’s Al-gebra, not Al-Qaeda".

The post went viral on reddit, garnering over 84.6k upvotes and more than 1800 comments, many sharing similar stories of being stopped for 'suspicious activites' while being on an aircraft.

One user said: "Even if he was writing in a foreign script, is that reason enough to question someone? 'Hello flight crew, there’s a foreigner on this aircraft.'"

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