Pretend Cathay pilot on flight lands in trouble

Local | Adeline Mak 3 May 2016

A young man who likes dressing up as a pilot was detained in Penang after he tried to pass himself off as a Cathay Pacific pilot on a Dragonair flight from Hong Kong.

Cabin crew became suspicious when he took lots of photos and ordered an alcoholic drink during the KA691 flight on March 31 to the Malaysian state.

The man, who said he was half-South African, was held by Malaysian immigration authorities when the flight landed. However it was not immediately known whether he has since returned to Hong Kong.

The aircraft had to be searched overnight before it returned to Hong Kong the following day.

The man, aged about 18 to 20, was dressed like a Cathay pilot as he boarded the flight. According to an internal document, the passenger in seat 12A also had a pass and cabin luggage with Cathay Pacific logos.

He claimed to be a pilot who was traveling on duty for Cathay Pacific, after completing a flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong. He said he wanted to say thank you to the cockpit crew after the flight landed in Penang.

He took several photos of inflight food after meals were served. Cabin crew became suspicious after he ordered a Bloody Mary, and instead gave him a non-alcoholic cocktail.

Thirty minutes before landing, they asked for his staff ID before he could visit the cockpit. He claimed his documents were in his checked-in baggage.

The crew waited until disembarkation before questioning him again. He said his stepfather was a Cathay pilot.

Ground staff held him on the passenger boarding bridge, notified cabin crew and alerted airport security.

The man was escorted by airport security and detained by Penang authorities. Immigration told the suspect he would be treated as an inadmissible passenger.

Hong Kong airport police then received a report about the incident. Police in Hong Kong said last night that no arrest had been made.

The youth appeared in photos in a captain's uniform on Instagram as "Mr Pilot."

Some cabin crew believe he regularly travels on the Hong Kong Airport Express and Tung Chung MTR Line as a pilot.

A Dragonair spokesman said:

"We have stringent security measures in place. Non-operating cockpit crew and unauthorized persons are strictly prohibited from access to the cockpit."

A spokeswoman from the Civil Aviation Department said it is contacting the airline for more information.

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