There have never been very many ways to get an upgrade on a plane. Back in the “olden days,” you might be able to get upgraded if you had status. Nowadays the only consistent way to get a flight upgrade is to pay for it. And, of course, for whatever his/her reasons, sometimes a gate agent might do you a favor and give you an upgrade that way. Which leads into my story…
As per CNN, a businessman was arrested in India in late 2019 after posing as a pilot in order to skip airport queues and get flight upgrades.
Rajan Mahbubani, a resident of New Dehli, apparently took a page out of the Catch Me If You Can play book and managed to take at least 15 flights by impersonating a pilot.
He reportedly would dress up in his counterfeit Lufthansa uniform before going to the airport and with that, was able to bypass security screening queues. He even had a fake Lufthansa pilot ID that he used to gain privileges at airports. Meanwhile, with seeing the whole package, gate agents would give him a seat upgrade as a professional courtesy.
The impersonation seemed to keep working for him for a while until he was caught at Dehli’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. He was scheduled to take an AirAsia flight to Kolkata. The AirAsia representative called Lufthansa to verify his identity. With that, the Lufthansa employee alerted security that a, “suspected passenger was impersonating a captain of Lufthansa airline,” Sanjay Bhatia, the airport’s deputy commissioner of police, told CNN.
Airports were apparently already on high alert for Mahbubani’s hijinks because he had bragged about his accomplishments on social media.
As per Bhatia, “Mahbubani said that he was a frequent flier and used to dress up as a pilot to gain easy access through security, get preferential treatment from security agencies and airlines and seat upgrades. He would use the passage normally used by airline crew.”
“The passenger had also posted videos wearing different uniforms on TikTok. He had traveled on various occasions using the same modus operandi,” said Bhatia, as per CNN.
Mahbubani was placed in custody and faced charges of cheating and impersonating.
So yeah – definitely NOT a good way to try to get an upgrade.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary