Christopher Shell was led off a US Airways plane in handcuffs after his Dallas-bound plane was forced to return to Philadelphia International Airport over a potential security threat.

It later emerged that a friend of Shell's phoned in to Philadelphia Police Airport Headquarters this morning to say the man, who turned 29 today, was about to board a plane to Texas "with a dangerous substance."

Shell himself was apparently unaware of the alleged birthday prank, posting on Facebook during the flight that he was "disappointed in US Airways" for having to return to the gate due to "technical difficulties."

"He was obviously very alarmed as I would be if heavily armed police officers entered a plane to take me off, he was certainly stunned," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan told NBC10.

Sullivan said Shell would not be charged in connection with the security scare, but his buddy, who cost the airline tens of thousands of dollars, definitely will be.

UPDATE: A source on the ground tells our sister site Jalopnik the prank was pulled by Shell's ex-girlfriend. That's the sound of the plot thickening.

[photo via AP]