Turns out there may have been a very good reason to turn an ANA flight around over four hours into its journey…a genuine stowaway onboard.
I love Christopher Nolan movies and recently watched one of his earlier films, called The Prestige. Spoiler alert: it involves sleights of mind made possible thanks to identical twins.
Well it seems two bothers may have pulled a magical two-for-one stunt onboard the ANA flight…and one may face prison time because of it. Per ABC News:
Law enforcement sources with knowledge of the situation told ABC News that two brothers went through security at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday with legitimate tickets, but were booked on separate flights to Tokyo. One had a ticket on an All Nippon Airways flight and the other was booked on a United Airlines plane.
The brothers, who have nearly identical names, were able to board the ANA flight together by apparently using a duplicate boarding pass, the sources said. It’s unclear how the brother with a United Airlines ticket found a seat on the plane. Their identities have not been revealed, other than being male American citizens.
FBI agents told ABC News on Wednesday night that they aren’t in a position to arrest anyone or press charges yet, but the investigation is ongoing. If investigators determine there was intent to board the incorrect flight, one of the brothers could be accused of being a stowaway, which is a federal crime and punishable up to five years in prison.
Meanwhile, the airline could face hefty fines from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for allowing the passenger on board and failing to make an accurate headcount.
Two Flights, One Departure Time
If you recall, ANA and United are close partners and each have a flight departing from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita at 10:45a:
Perhaps by accident, perhaps deliberately, it seems two brothers were traveling to Tokyo on different flights departing at the same time. One was booked on United, the other on ANA. We’ll see if they tried to make an official change before taking matters in their own hands. If so, that would demonstrate intent to board an incorrect flight.
Admittedly, I’d be impressed if they planned this out and managed to get away with it. But ANA would certainly have some explaining to do. This issue fascinates me all the more because my past experience with ANA suggests a high level of attention to detail. For example, usually boarding passes are ripped and reconciled instead of merely scanned. Furthermore, FAs examine boarding passes upon entering the aircraft.
But it’s not too difficult to imagine what happened. The brothers, allegedly with similar names, squeaked by two interactions with ANA staff. Perhaps when the boarding pass was scanned an “already boarded” warning beep issued. But that is easily overridden…after all, it appeared the passenger was right there and if the “real” passenger boarded second, the passport would perfectly match. Onboard, the also brother could have simply boarded apart. FAs do not check passports onboard and it is unlikely they would remember seeing, for example, seat 46A twice.
This issue is still developing. The FBI said there was not foul play on Wednesday but has changed its tune. I’ll keep you updated on what the investigation actually reveals.
(H/T: One Mile at a Time)