Raejali Buntut was jailed today for living in executive airport lounges for three weeks by forging boarding passes.
Mr Buntut missed his Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur on 21st August and spent 18 days in Singapore Changi Airport, feasting on luxurious breakfasts and dinners, sleeping in comfortable seats, enjoying movies and using the showers. The businessman managed to remain in transit by using his laptop to download images of passes issued by Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines and editing them to include his name, a fake flight number and destination.
He created a total of 31 fake boarding passes and stayed at nine different lounges.
According to reports by the Singapore Straits Times, the man was caught and arrested after airport lounge staff became suspicious of his repeated visits. The Singaporean court eventually charged him with forgery and sentenced him to two weeks jail for his “blatantly lawless behaviour.”
Police at Singapore Changi Airport claimed they conduct “patrols and regular security checks on persons in the transit areas to ensure the safety and security of all passengers”.
Raejali’s misadventure was mirrored by Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal, a film about an Eastern European traveller who remains stranded at JFK Airport after war breaks out in his home country. Hanks’ fictional character was based on the story of Iranian, Mehran Karimi Nasseri, a refugee who arrived at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport in 1988 without a passport and remained there for decades until he was legally allowed to reside in France.
Many online commentators were quick to point out the irony that the punishment of Mr Buntut’s crime of stealing food and accommodation is two weeks more free food and accommodation.