A Russian woman allegedly managed to sneak past security checks at Rotterdam Airport in the Netherlands on Monday and then stowaway aboard a plane, but security officials ended up diverting two planes as a result of the security alert because they didn’t know for sure which flight she was on.
The unnamed woman turned up at the Dutch airport on Monday evening and went to the security checkpoint where she put her personal belongings on the belt to be x-ray screened as normal but then reportedly pushed an emergency button.
Local media report that security guards were distracted by the resulting commotion and confusion, and somehow the woman managed to cross over into the main departures area without actually being security screened.
Once in the supposedly secure ‘airside’ part of the airport, the woman got outside and headed towards the nearest plane where passengers were boarding. The woman brazenly walked onboard, took a seat without being questioned by cabin crew and it departed with no one onboard any the wiser.
Only after the Malaga-bound Transavia Airlines flight had departed did security officers at the airport realise that someone had snuck past them and that they could no longer be found in the airport.
Officials ordered the plane to divert to Madrid where the woman was discovered and taken into custody by Spanish police. The aircraft had to be searched, and after a delay of nearly four hours on the ground, it was cleared to depart for the short remainder of the journey to Malaga.
The stowaway’s discovery wasn’t made in time, however, to prevent the diversion of a second Transavia flight bound for Faro in Portugal that had departed Rotterdam at the same time and ended up being sent to Bordeaux where it landed before receiving the all-clear.
“As soon as the Marechaussee found out about this, we immediately informed the captain,” a spokesperson for the Dutch Royal Military Police said of the incident.
“The Marechaussee is investigating the case,” the statement continued.
Witnesses aboard the Malaga-bound flight claim the woman was displaying “strange” behaviour and was telling passengers about human trafficking.
In the United States, 70-year-old Marilyn Hartman is suspected of sneaking onto at least 30 flights without a ticket. Hartman, who suffers from bipolar disorder, would normally target flights from Chicago O’Hare where she managed to get onto a British Airways flight to London, as well as flights to Copenhagen and Paris.
She is also believed to have crisscrossed the United States, somehow managing to evade airline staff and security checks before eventually being caught.
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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.