Successful stowaway? Man flies to LAX without passport, flight ticket or visa

Gorodenkoff /

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has charged a man with being a stowaway after he flew from Copenhagen Airport (DPH) in Denmark to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) without a passport, flight ticket, or visa.

Sergey Vladimirovich Ochigava arrived at LAX airport on November 4, 2023 via a Scandinavian Airlines flight. 

According to the FBI, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at LAX discovered that Ochigava was not carrying a passport or flight ticket.

Ochigava initially told officials that he left his passport in the aircraft. However, authorities found that not only was there no passport in the plane, but Ochigava was also not on the passenger manifest for flight SK 931 from Copenhagen.

When Ochigava’s personal belongings were searched later on, officials found Russian and Israeli identification cards.

“When questioned, Ochigava gave false and misleading information about his travel to the United States, including initially telling CBP that he left his passport on the airplane,” the FBI affidavit said.

Confused stowaway

When questioned how he managed to board the flight without a passport or even a flight booking, Ochigava said that he was confused, had no sleep for three days and could not remember how he boarded a plane without a ticket, boarding pass or passport. 

Unlike usual stowaways, Ochigava did not behave inconspicuously on the flight. According to Scandinavian Airlines cabin crew, Ochigava wandered around the plane, attempted to engage in conversation with other passengers, and moved seats several times.

During the almost 12-hour flight, Ochigava also requested two meals during each meal service, and tried to eat chocolate that was reserved for cabin crew.

Ochigava told the FBI that he had a PhD in economics and marketing, and had previously worked as an economist in Russia.

According to the US Code, Ochigava could be imprisoned for up to five years if convicted.

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