Stowaway on Delta flight gets caught before plane takes off, police say

Texas man allegedly finagled his way past scan checkpoints by using a photo he snapped of someone else’s valid boarding pass
A Delta Airlines Boeing 737, front, passes another Delta Airlines Boeing 777 on the tarmac at Salt Lake City International Airport, Sept. 16, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A Delta Airlines Boeing 737, front, passes another Delta Airlines Boeing 777 on the tarmac at Salt Lake City International Airport, Sept. 16, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

A man who schemed his way onto a Delta flight without a ticket was caught before the plane took off and arrested, according to police.

The man, Wicliff Yves Fleurizard of George, Texas, boarded a Delta plane at Salt Lake City International Airport on Sunday morning, using a photo on his phone of a young girl’s boarding pass, according to a felony complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Utah. Fleurizard had taken photos of passengers’ phones or boarding passes when they were not looking, the complaint said.

The complaint accuses Fleurizard of violating federal law on stowaways on vessels or aircraft.

After the 26-year-old was caught, he was arrested and booked into jail on a federal detainer, according to Salt Lake City Police.

The gate agent for the flight said the girl whose boarding pass Fleurizard had taken a photo of “had an issue when the Delta gate agent attempted to scan her ticket,” showing she was already onboard, according to the complaint.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said it is “cooperating with law enforcement and relevant federal agencies” on the investigation.

Fleurizard told authorities he was in Park City, Utah for a snowboarding trip and that he had a Southwest “buddy pass” from a friend, according to the complaint.

The Transportation Security Administration said he was screened at the security checkpoint with a photo ID that matched his boarding pass. A buddy pass typically allows friends and family of airline employees to fly on standby.

Fleurizard told authorities there were no available seats on a flight he tried to get on Saturday afternoon, and he was rebooked for a Sunday morning flight that he could not get on because it was overbooked, according to the complaint.

He was rescheduled again for a Southwest flight that afternoon, but instead got on the Delta flight. Fleurizard “admitted he had made a mistake and was only trying to get home,” the complaint said.

After getting on the plane bound for Austin, Texas, Fleurizard went into the lavatory at the front of the plane and stayed in there during boarding, according to the complaint. After boarding finished, he then went to the back of the plane and entered the lavatory there.

When he exited the lavatory, ”a flight attendant noticed that there were no seats available on the plane,” the complaint said. The plane was already taxiing to the runway.

Fleurizard claimed to have seat 21F, according to the complaint, but that seat was already taken by someone who had a ticket for the seat. Flight attendants could not find a valid reservation for Fleurizard “on Delta Flight #1683 or any other Delta Flight for that matter,” according to the complaint.

The plane returned to the gate and police responded, at Delta’s request, then arrested Fleurizard.

There are safeguards to prevent passengers without a valid ticket from boarding a plane, including a scanner at the gate that indicates with a light and beeping when a boarding pass has already been scanned. Crewmembers also do a final count of passengers on board the plane.

However, there have been instances when a discrepancy is missed, and passengers without a valid boarding pass have managed to get through.