Police arrest man for dressing as Lufthansa pilot to skip queues, get upgrades

  • 25/11/2019
Rajan Mahbubani was arrested after posing as a Lufthansa pilot to skip queues and get upgrades.
Rajan Mahbubani in his disguise. Photo credit: Delhi Police

An Indian businessman has been arrested after posing as a pilot to skip airport queues and get flight upgrades.

Rajan Mahbubani was caught trying to get an AirAsia flight from New Delhi to Kolkata last week in a fake Lufthansa pilot uniform - but his scheme was exposed when AirAsia contacted Lufthansa to confirm his identity.

He later reportedlty confessed to taking at least 15 flights while impersonating a pilot and often getting preferential treatment.

Police say Mahbubani also had a phoney army colonel's uniform and a fake Lufthansa pilot ID card he claims he bought in Bangkok.

The case is drawing comparisons to 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as real-life fugitive and pilot impersonator Frank Abnagale Jr.

Airports were on the lookout for Mahbubani after he began showing off his illegal travel hack on social media.

"The passenger had also posted videos wearing different uniforms on TikTok. He had travelled on various occasions using the same modus operandi," said Deputy Commissioner of Police Sanjay Bhatia, according to reports from CNN and The Telegraph.

"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."

AirAsia confirmed the incident to The Times of India, saying it stands by its security policies.

Mahbubani reportedly remains in custody and faces charges that could see him sentenced up to a year in prison.