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Man with no passport or ticket flew from Copenhagen to Los Angeles

A man claims he doesn't remember how he got through Copenhagen Airport security and then flew across the ocean with no passport or ticket.
Man with no passport or ticket flew from Copenhagen to Los Angeles
Posted at 7:18 PM, Dec 13, 2023

Rarely can a person say they breezed right through airport security, especially if there are issues with their ticket or method of identification.

But one man managed to do just that last month, flying from Denmark's Copenhagen Airport to Los Angeles International Airport with neither a passport nor a plane ticket.

The alleged stowaway, Sergey Vladimirovich Ochigava, arrived at LAX via Scandinanvian Airlines flight 931 on Nov. 4, a criminal complaint filed by the FBI said.

The 46-year-old initially told Customs and Border Protection checkpoint personnel he left his U.S. passport on the plane, but as officers tried to process him, they found no record of him being a passenger on the flight or any other in the system.

These findings, along with confirmation that the flight showed no passengers unprocessed by customs, prompted authorities to believe Ochigava was a stowaway on the aircraft. He was detained and later charged with the crime, which he pleaded not guilty to on Dec. 5.

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Customs officers had found Russian and Israeli identification cards for Ochigava upon searching his bag, but neither permitted him to travel to the U.S. There was also no record for Ochigava in the U.S. State Department's database of visa applications, and Scandinavian Airlines never found the passport he claimed was on board.

The criminal complaint, which doesn't state Ochigava's true nationality, states that Ochigava told the FBI the day after he landed in LAX that he hadn't slept for three days and didn't understand what was happening. He allegedly said he wasn't sure if he had a plane ticket to come to the U.S. and didn't remember how he got through security or on the plane in the first place. He also wouldn't tell officials how or when he got to Copenhagen or why he was there, the complaint says.

The Scandinavian Airlines flight 931 crew said Ochigava originally sat in a seat that was supposed to be unoccupied. After takeoff, the complaint states that many crew members watched Ochigava continuously wander around the plane, changing seats and talking to passengers who ignored him. The staff also said he asked for two meals during each meal service and tried to take food that belonged to cabin crew members.

Ochigava was still in federal custody as of Wednesday. A trial for his case is scheduled for Dec. 26. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison for the felony crime of being a stowaway on an aircraft.

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