Cleared to fly with wrong passport

  • AseanPlus News
  • Monday, 26 Apr 2004

A JOURNALIST on his way to a conference in Kuala Lumpur got through all the checks at Changi Airport and boarded his flight only to discover he had done so with a friend’s passport. 

Shocked, he got off the plane and, after much explaining, was escorted out of the secure area by a senior immigration official. 

Ignatius Low, 32, deputy editor of The Straits Times’ Money Desk, discovered his mistake before the Singapore Airlines flight took off. 

While waiting for the plane to leave, he decided to fill in the arrival form as required by the Malaysian immigration.  

He had to reach for his passport to check its expiry date, which he had forgotten. It is required on the form. 

Low was stunned to see the face of video editor, Heng Chin Chuan, on the passport. 

If he hadn’t caught the mistake in time, and if it also escaped the notice of Malaysian immigration officials, he would have found himself in a foreign country holding a passport not his own. 

After the incident last Sunday, immigration and airline officials have begun to take action against those who let Low pass through airport security checks with someone else’s passport. 

A customer service agent whose job was to screen passengers before boarding SIA planes has been “removed from the position”, the airline said. 

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said an investigation was underway and the officer who had let Low through had been disciplined. 

How did the first error in this chain of errors come about? 

Low and Heng, 26, had recently holidayed together in Australia.  

Heng, who wasn’t carrying a cabin bag, had handed Low his passport for safekeeping, and forgotten to take it back. 

So both passports ended up in the same drawer. 

Last Sunday night, Low said, when he got home from the airport, he immediately took out his own passport from the drawer and put it in his bag “even before taking off my shoes”. 

The following morning, he added, “I checked and rechecked my passport before I left for Kuala Lumpur on another flight”. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

For another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network, click here.


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