Local woman took flight with disguised man
Published Saturday, November 6, 2010 6:58PM MDT
Ragil Mega's faith in airport security has taken a hit.
The Edmontonian boarded a now-notorious Air Canada flight in Hong Kong on October 29th, where an Asian man in his 20s managed to slip past security dressed as a senior Caucasian.
"I'm so panicked, it happened like a week ago, but I was panicking," said Mega of her reaction when she learned the news Thursday evening.
"He could have been a bad guy or something."
It's believed the yet-to-be-identified man used his own identification to get past the first security checkpoint. Once through, authorities say he put on a realistic silicone or rubber mask and swapped boarding passes with an accomplice before getting onto the plane.
His only identification as the elderly man consisted of an Aeroplan card with no photo. CTV News is told airline officials did not check his identification.
Mega says she didn't see the man, but can't understand how a security breach of this magnitude could happen.
"They say his face was his old face, but he has like, young-looking hands," she said.
"You question that."
The man was met by border officials when the flight landed in Vancouver, and has since claimed refugee status.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday that while the mask in this case presented a new twist, the incident is not uncommon in Canada.
He says reports of potential terrorist threats pass his desk almost daily, and suggests this latest breach glitch shouldn't have been made public.
"The threats are evolving and keep on changing. And not every threat, for example, is brought to our attention immediately," he said.
"In this particular case, as a result of a leak to a news agency it became public knowledge."
The incident made headlines after CNN obtained a copy of an internal alert by the Canada Border Services Agency, issued on November 1st.
With Files from the Canadian Press