VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A young Asian man who boarded an Air Canada flight elaborately disguised as an elderly white male was intercepted after emerging from a toilet mid-flight without his silicone mask, according to reports.
Officials were notified of a “possible imposter” on an Air Canada flight originating from Hong Kong on Oct. 29. After arriving in Vancouver, the man was escorted off the flight and he subsequently made a claim for refugee protection.
According to an intelligence alert issued by the Canada Border Services Agency, officers later recovered a “disguise kit” — which included “a silicone-type head and neck mask of an elderly Caucasian male, a brown leather cap, glasses and a thin brown cardigan.”
The statement described the case as an “unbelievable case of concealment.”
“The passenger in question was observed at the beginning of the flight to be an elderly Caucasian male who appeared to have young looking hands,” the bulletin added. “During the flight the subject attended the washroom and emerged an Asian male that appeared to be in his early 20s.”
After being detained at the airport, officials asked the passenger to put on the clothing and mask found in one of three pieces of luggage linked to him.
“The subject donned the ‘disguise’ for Border Services Officers and they noted that he very much resembled an elderly Caucasian man, complete with mimicking the movements of an elderly person,” the alert added. “The subject admitted at this time that he had boarded the flight with the mask on and had removed it several hours later.”
The statement said the young Asian man had swapped boarding passes with a 55-year-old U.S. citizen before getting on the plane. He had later used a frequent flier card as ID to board the flight, the alert added.
“As neither boarding passes nor Aeroplan (frequent flier) cards reflect dates of birth, it may not have been very difficult for the very elderly looking imposter to present himself as a 55-year-old man,” the bulletin said.
Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said a man is in detention and the matter is before Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. A spokeswoman for the Immigration and Refugee Board declined comment.
Air Canada also confirmed a passenger on board flight AC018 had been met by border services officials in Vancouver.
“It should be noted that there are multiple identity checks before departure at the Hong Kong international airport, including Chinese government-run Hong Kong passport control, which Hong Kong originating passengers must undergo,” Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said.
John Babcock, a spokesman for Canada’s Transport Minister, declined to release details but said airlines have the responsibility to verify the identity of all passengers who appear to be 18 years of age or older.
“That means air carriers are supposed to look at a passenger’s entire face to determine if they appear to be over 18 and if so, compare their physical appearance with their travel documents,” Babcock said.
The security bulletin was originally obtained by CNN.