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Tokyo-bound flight turns back to LAX because of unauthorized person

All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight bound for Tokyo's Narita Airport turned around to go back to Los Angeles International Airport, due to an unauthorized person on the plane. ( More...

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Highflyer1950 12
I’ll go out on a limb here, but if they diverted to PANC they would have to dump a minimum about 6 hours of fuel, plus if the ground stop evolved into anything longer than a few hours there might have been a crew duty day issue. Then everyone gets to spend the night in Anchorage. My guess is that it was a company descision to return to LAX.
sstuff 4
Highflyer1950's explanation makes good sense. Isn't this an instance where the captain would "consult" by radio with the flight's dispatcher? Moreover, the discussion and decision probably went further up the chain of command.
Edmund Burke 15
This was a incompetent and absurd decision by the captain. 300 passengers were massively inconvenienced. The cost to the airline by this decision could be indeed went over $100,000. It would have been infinitely cheaper for the airline to arrange absolute security at Narita for this passenger and then put this passenger on the next flight to Los Angeles. Even if the airline flew this passenger back first class they are still saved well over 100,000. The unnecessary inconvenience for all the other passengers were also cost the airline dearly. This stupidity of course has a knock on effect in the utilization of their triple sevens.
jacqwayne 5
The news broadcast I watched stated that the two brothers were going to the same destination, just on different carriers (ANA and United). Why they couldn't just go on to their destination is beyond me. Maybe they hadn't figured that out before the decision was made to return to LAX?
Tony Perez 4
Why would they even need security at Narita? If the passenger was in the international terminal then he would've had a passport. I believe, you can enter and stay in Japan for up to 90 days without additional visas.
I'm guessing his correct gate was close to the one he went through. Sometimes adjacent gates can be confusing , especially if you're not familiar to the airport.
Think of it as getting on the wrong bus.
AWAAlum 0
I think they somehow decided to do this intentionally. I would imagine they knew very well they were on different flights, different airlines.

Their luck held out when he selected a seat, and it was unassigned to another pax. The entire hoax would have been discovered when a game of musical chairs began.
jgccpa 1
He was travelling with his brother. Article leaves out the UAL flight he was booked on that leaves about the same time...would that be UAL32 to NRT?
kginsberg 1
What if the "at that time" unknown "passenger" had a plan to bring down the plane somewhere over the Pacific. You mention cost and inconvenience. Can you imagine the cost to the airline paying out all of the claims for the 300 lost souls plus additional damages because the "prudent" course was to set the plane down as safely as possible. Of course, if that was the PAX's plan, the other passengers inconvenience would have turned into a death spiral into the Pacific. Monday morning quarterbacking and hindsight are always 20-20.
mickey hines 0
So you really believe the Captain made this decision? LOL
joel wiley 1
In a word yes. Note the final word in the term "Pilot in Command" The PIC is ultimately responsible for the flight. The PIC probably had input from several sources, including corporate, but the final decision was in the PIC's court.
Braniff77 7
The news tonight said that there were two brothers with almost identical names. One had a ticket on the ANA flight and the other had a ticket on United, but both got on the ANA flight. The attendants only found out there was a problem when they did a headcount hours into the flight. Which begs the question about why they didn't do a headcount before they left.
Tony Perez 4
Probably not related to this, but codeshares can be confusing! Imagine having a ticket for KLM and then you get to your gate to see a Delta plane sitting out there.
canuck44 2
Lots of United connections out of PANC to Denver, LAX and ORD. If the guy was a United passenger to begin, then that would be logical. If Highflyer is right, dumping is probably still cheaper and they should have been able to turn around in an hour.

Identical names can be a the 1970's at Canadian Forces Base Lahr, two patients with long and very French-Canadian names were scheduled for full mouth dental extractions and circumcision in succession. When the second patient was prepped he was found to have already been circumcised. The Oral Surgeon muttered that would explain why it was so hard extracting the first patien's teeth.
canuck44 9
Seems it would have made more sense to toss the guy off in Anchorage and save most of the seven hour round trip to LAX. Lots of connections out of there and being on US soil, there would be no other the guy a ticket to wherever,
I would bet almost anything that the person here was either a child, or a person with a guide to get to the plane. Handicap of some sort. Or it was Frank matter what, there is far too much missing from the story. Had this been some hippy stow away their name and all would be on the news...I bet it was a kid. Thus, not ability to go to AK and drop them off....
Mike Duralia 2
Frank that's funny right there...
g meades 0
Frank Abagnale FYI
Not Abagniel, not Abagnaley, ABAGNALE! LOL
canuck44 2
You may be right but it would still have been cheaper to drop into PANC and charter he/she to wherever was the appropriate destination.
Read Christie Teigens tweets, she was on this flight. The "beedoop machine" comment is priceless.
No evidence to suggest this at all. Bad decision on part of airline. Proceed to destination. Deal with bogus passenger and gate staff and flight attendants later. No reason to waste tons of money and inconvenience 300 passengers and their families/business dealings etc. Think of the ripple effect that this must have had. For every passenger on that plane, probably five more were adversely affected on the other end.
hardworker7 1
Agreed. Four hours out puts them in the Gulf of Alaska.
No pills and no imunizations for stupid.
744pnf 3
,,, two brothers with almost identical names. ... Perhaps they just wanted to fly together.
steve jenney 5
Boggles the mind how this could happen. What the hell were the flight crew doing prior to departure. Isn't the passenger manifest supposed to add up before they leave the gate? The passenger in question obviously isn't the brightest bulb in the string. they should have some responsibility in this matter as well. Made the correct decision though. I want to know who is on my plane just like i want to know who my next door neighbor is,
Tony Perez 3
They don't do a headcount, well unless the particular airline requires it, I guess. The only time it will come up is if there is a seat assignment conflict.
As I mentioned in another response; I bet it's easy to get on the wrong plane if your gate is right next to the one that's boarding. There's usually a big crowd of people gathered around 4 gates or so. I've watched the gate agents and they often don't look at the scanner when they scan the boarding pass.
Oh and.. I don't know who my next door neighbor is either.
Robert Lewis 1
Even if they don't want to do a headcount it would be a simple enough matter to do a destination check, mentioning airline, flight number and destination. If anyone who is listening to it connects the dots and figures out they are on the wrong airplane and don't want to be, it could save a lot of money and time.
kginsberg 1
I hear what you are saying, but I have been on half empty planes and the gate attendant or purser always does a headcount, even if its only to make sure that the number of people checked in at the gate matches the number seated on the plane.
Mike Monk 2
With all focus on security these days, particularly in the USA, to the point where all the fun and excitement of air travel has been killed off, it amazes me to read of such a breach of security.
There is NO WAY this should have been able to happen!
paul trubits 2
Back in the day, the Eastern Shuttle had flights to Boston and DC from NYC. Every day some one would wonder why they were giving the weather forecast for DC when they were going to Boston. The gate agent is going to have a lot of explaining to do. Most of them are bilingual on international flights and not being able to speak English should not have been a factor.
Robert Lewis 1
Funny you should mention Eastern. I worked with a 2nd generation Puerto Rican. He was fond of telling the story about his mother flying back to Puerto Rico out of O'Hare, one of their major routes. She could only speak Spanish and Eastern did NOT have any bilingual gate agents on duty at the time. My co-worker forever had a dim view of Eastern.
Now, if craft on their way TO the USA with "undocumented" passengers would just all turn around...
Robert Lewis 1
Awesome comment!
Unstable USSecurity systems!
hardworker7 1
Seems since ANA and United are members of the Star Alliance, these two perhaps thought no big deal if they flew together. ANA U.S. departures will use UA gates just like Lufthansa does.
I'm a deaf person so communications issues is at great risk for me. In all of my 29 flights, the gate agent asked me for passport and boarding pass and made sure both match before scanning it. In 2 cases, I asked to which airport a flight is going (plane had mechanical problems so they changed gates and planes to get us before another group) and I got the confirmation.

I'm trying to wrap my mind about why they decided to return to LAX, causing inconvenience to the whole plane just for one person... I believe it's simpler and cheaper to make sure the wrong passenger get detained at NRT and send back to LAX in another plane (or take the same plane in the return flight). I know they can because I went to NRT once in a 30 min layover (long story, supposed to be 2 hour) and a security staff woman took me in charge and went thru security to board the next plane.
Fred J. 1
Well... the Captain is right and he is wrong. ANA's security policy was followed. BUT... I would definitely prefer to be flying with a crew that knows the procedure, respect rules, but can think for themselves when an unexpected situation arises.

Other news sources say the mistake was discovered while in flight. It was two brothers with "very similar names", both originally flying to Tokyo, but in different flights, both cleared by US security and initially by Japan to enter the country and, most important, both admitted into the ANA plane by ANA gate staff and a terrible performance of ANA cabin crew who allowed the doors to be closed with an extra passenger seated on the plane.

So I agree with others on this on, this flight should have gone on its way and - even if the brothers did it on purpose - it is ANA gate and cabin crew that need to hear from the bosses about this....

If we go by the book it was a correct decision by the captain, but it surely showed a lack of critical thinking and decision making.
blueashflyer 1
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
Immunizations, sorry.
Gary Palmer 1
Brothers with same first and last name. One scans and gets beedooped so agents asks name and gets first and last, validates that the name is valid and reissues pass. Brother enters plane and sits in unassigned seat. The model who understands that beedoop tech and can sound intelligent is priceless (and worthless). The PILOT made the decision, that much is now fact. And yes, if the PAX was actually malicious it would play different. Not all data was available and there was a plane filled with live souls at risk. Hmmmmmm, I'll not argue the hindsight, but the captain was probably trying to do the safest thing so everyone might live.
Gary Palmer 1
and since both had valid tickets, they got past all the screening. It was only at the gate that the united ticket failed and then apparently the agent reissued or allowed entry thinking same first/last as passenger on flight. So no, not TSA issue.
Charles Izzo 1
reason number 23 why I avoid flying whenever possible. Stupid policies.
Robert Huff 1
The choice of ANA to return to remove this passenger for this mistake is laudable.
The choice of the ANA "gate keeper" to allow boarding is not.
The insanity of the entire episode hangs on the allegation that the errant passenger actually had a duplicated ticket of his brother for an entirely different airline.
The brother was noted to be flying on the proper flight with the same ticket.
How does this airline expect the public to believe that they are so neglectful as to allow a person whose identity is in question and whose ticket is for an entirely different airline.
This was a security lapse of a magnitude that could not be passed off as an "accident".
Apparently the security of ANA is inept and woefully inadequate.
Leon Artac 1
Whatever the reason this happened or the ways to prevent it from happening again, the decision to return to LA was the correct one. Would anyone want to be sitting in that plane knowing that someone wasn't suppose to be on it? Did they check their baggage? Maybe it got on without being scanned? The right thing was to get that aircraft down as soon as possible.
The decision wasn't made by the captain, it was made by operations. It was the correct decision.
Robert Lewis 1
From what I understand from another post, the "soon as possible" would have been Anchorage since the plane was already 4 hours outbound and had reached the Gulf of Alaska.
dave mcc 1
How times have changed. I remember saving money by buying the return portion of a strangerflight of a passenger from the personal column of the local news paper.Vancouver to Toronto in the early 1980's. At boarding all they cared about was the ticket, no ID was required.
A NON-authorized passenger? I doubt whether he or his fellow travelers ever considered how long they might ultimately be detained. It doesn't take much to mess up one's plans, even if its just a last minute getaway.
Most people will remain asleep during such a long and difficult journey and only be woke once it's over.
Leon Artac 1
Understand that one of the brothers duplicated his boarding pass so the other could fly with him. Don't know if the one brother even paid for a ticket. That's why you do a headcount prior to taking off! Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Olivier Long 1
My hunch is gate attendant error compounded by a passenger’s native language not being English or Japanese. One second of inattention may cause an attendant to overlook the red scanner light and error tone of a rejected bar code. The seat designated on the ticket was probably empty, delaying discovery of the mistake.
As a database admin I would put the blame on the software system for not flagging the issue with the passenger list prior to leaving the gate. Discovering the issue using a manual head count AFTER the flight is underway seems sooo last century. (It’s almost 2018
Leon Artac 1
It might be soooo last century, but it works (if the head count is done prior to take off. And how many times do computers screw up? I check my bank balance almost every day. don't trust the bank's computer to do it.
ken young 0
Gate agent? Hello? Try looking more closely at boarding pass and make sure it matches the ID.....
Leon Artac 1
ID not checked at boarding gate. Only at TSA. Since both brothers had almost identical names it wouldn't have been caught. Head count would have caught the problem.
John D 0
Agreed on the absurdity.
I don't know this for sure, but that flight probably normally turns around and goes back to LAX from NAR. I noticed that the flight that was to leave this morning from LAX to NAR is leaving very late today by about six hours. I assume they had to move a few planes around to avoid cancelling it all together. The original ANA 175 that got turned around is still about 2 hours from NAR.
David Barnes 5
NAR is Puerto Nare airport in Colombia.
NRT is Narita Airport in Japan.
canuck44 5
LOL...good thing captain caught it or 299 passengers would be at the wrong airport.
Leon Artac 1
How did you get to that conclusion?
joel wiley 2
Wonder if United and ANA boarding passes are that similar
John D 1
Oops, you are right. In my subconscious mind I knew that! Thanks!
gerardo godoy 0
That's a sign for all to notice that Airlines security and ticket management is a total Mess!!!! there is No respect for passenger anymore. Dangerous to Fly with Many airlines.
Leon Artac 2
How many fatalities due to poor airline security or ticket management (USA numbers). Not at all.
Saw this on the news.....should have just gone to TYO and let the UA clown fly back next day......this prob not Captn decision, dispatch was in there with the last word....


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