A 25-year-old French man has been found guilty of attempting to sneak onboard an Emirates flight to Dubai without a ticket by using a doctored boarding pass to dupe his way through airport security.
Yann Ilunga tried to get on the flight at Manchester International Airport in February 2020 and has just been found guilty of attempting to defraud Emirates. A probation report described the attempted crime as being borne out of “poor planning and third rate actions”.
Llunga obtained a screenshot of a legitimate mobile boarding pass from a friend who was due to fly to Dubai from Heathrow Airport and simply changed the airport code from LHR to MAN.
He was seemingly unaware that the barcode on the boarding pass was coded only to allow access at Heathrow Airport and contained the details of the legitimate traveller.
“He had a doctored pass on his mobile phone that he used in an attempt to board the flight, but the security system picked up that something was wrong,” prosecutor Peter Warne told Manchester Crown Court.
“The pass had been doctored from a boarding pass of a female friend who was flying from London. That attempt didn’t go through security.”
“He tried to show the security officer his phone with the pass on it, but that didn’t work either,” Warne continued in comments reported by the Manchester Evening Post.
Unable to get through security when the boarding pass failed to work, Llunga was directed back to the Emirates check-in desks. Once there, Llunga was able to “hoodwink” the check-in staff into reissuing a genuine boarding pass by pretending to be a passenger who was actually on the flight and claiming the pass had been lost.
The reissued boarding pass allowed Llunga to get through the security checkpoint but he was quickly found out when he tried to board the flight. Gate agents asked to see his passport and discovered his name didn’t match what was on the boarding pass. He also failed to provide the correct seat number.
The real passenger was even removed from the flight and questioned by police although no further action was taken.
In his defence, Llunga’s lawyer said he had bought the plane ticket for his “lady friend” and was due to travel with her from Heathrow but bad weather prevented him from travelling to London. The ticket should have cost £800 the court was told.
Llunga has two previous convictions for trying to avoid train fares.
He did, however, avoid jail time and was instead sentenced for five months imprisonment suspended for two years. He has also been ordered to complete 10 days of rehabilitation activity requirements and 140 hours of unpaid work.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.