An Indian man dressed up as a pilot and used his disguise to skip lines and get free upgrades, police say

Rajan Mahbubani

  • An Indian man was arrested in Delhi airport Monday. Police there say he dressed up as a pilot and tried to use his status to get preferential treatment, like free upgrades.
  • Officers say Rajan Mahbubani was trying to pass himself off as a Lufthansa pilot while getting on an Air Asia flight from Delhi to Kolkata.
  • Police said Mahbubani had also previously impersonated an army colonel.
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An Indian man was arrested in at an airport in New Delhi Monday, on suspicion of dressing up as an airline pilot in an attempt to get preferential treatment.

Rajan Mahbubani was detained while attempting to board an Air Asia flight at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, according to a report from CNN.Advertisement

He was dressed in the uniform of a pilot for Germany's flag carrier airline, Lufthansa.

According to CNN, Mahbubani told authorities that he had frequently dressed up as a pilot to secure perks like upgraded seats and access to crew-only lines at security and passport control.

Mahbubani even had a fake Lufthansa pilots ID, police said.

His scheme was discovered when staff from the Air Asia flight he was trying to board called Lufthansa to confirm his identity.

He was then arrested at the gate before getting on the flight to Kolkata.
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According to The Daily Telegraph, police accused Mahbubani of having a history of impersonated various uniformed professions.

The outlet quoted Delhi airport police official Sanjay Bhatia, who said: "The passenger had also posted videos wearing different uniforms on TikTok. He had travelled on various occasions using the same modus operandi. The travel history of the passenger is being scanned."

Mahbubani's case has been compared to a less successful version of the movie "Catch Me If You Can," which told the story of Frank Abagnale, who conned people out of millions of dollars in the 1960s using various disguises including that of a pilot.Advertisement

The Telegraph said police also found pictures on Mahbubani's phone of him dressed as an army colonel.

An official for Air Asia acknowledged the arrest, saying in a statement reported by The Times of India: "He was handed over to the airport police and an investigation has been ordered."

The incident is the second involving elaborate disguises to emerge from Delhi in recent months. In September, 32-year-old Jayesh Patel was arrested for dressing up as an old man, including dying his hair white, to try and get on a plane to the US.Advertisement

Patel tried to board a flight to New York using a passport with the fake name of Amrik Singh, an 81-year-old born in Delhi in February 1938, the Central Industrial Security Force said.