VANCOUVER — Transport Canada is investigating after a passenger allegedly boarded an Air Canada flight from Hong Kong to Canada disguised as an elderly man, according to an intelligence report.
The CBSA intelligence alert from Nov. 1, obtained by CNN, said a passenger thought to be an elderly white man who “appeared to have young looking hands” boarded a flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver on Oct. 29, and later emerged from the washroom as an Asian man in his early 20s.
The man was escorted off the flight at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 29 and he proceeded to claim refugee status. The document said the suspect had one bag, but the flight crew found two more containing a pair of gloves, a silicone head and neck mask of an elderly white man, brown leather cap, glasses and cardigan.
“The subject donned the ‘disguise’ for (border security officers) and they noted that he very much resembled an elderly Caucasian man, complete with mimicking the movements of an elderly person,” the intelligence report said.
“The subject admitted at this time that he had boarded the flight with the mask on and had removed it several hours later.”
The report — headlined “unbelievable case of concealment” — said it is believed the man in his 20s used an Aeroplan frequent flyer card as identification to board the flight and swapped boarding passes with a U.S. citizen born in 1955.
It is not clear who the U.S. citizen is or why he traded boarding passes with the young man, nor is it known where in the airport the pair exchanged passes.
In a statement Friday afternoon, CBSA confirmed that they “intercepted and detained the traveller attempting to enter Canada under false pretences” on Oct. 29.
The young man, whose name has not been released, is in CBSA custody and will appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada “as is standard procedure,” CBSA said.
Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told QMI Agency, "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.”
Transport Canada said it is aware of the event and “is investigating whether the identity screening regulations were respected.”
Officials with the Hong Kong International Airport were unable to comment on the matter.