PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A French man accused of impersonating a pilot after he was found sitting in an airliner cockpit at Philadelphia International Airport originally asked for a seat upgrade to first class, authorities said Monday.
Federal prosecutors on Monday filed charges of using a fraudulent identity against 61-year-old Philippe Jeannard of La Rochelle. He already faced state charges including trespass, forgery and false impersonation.
Jeannard, who was wearing a shirt with an Air France logo and captain's epaulets on his shoulder, had a ticket for a Florida-bound US Airways flight Wednesday and asked at the check-in counter for an upgrade, authorities said. He became upset when he was told there were no available seats, authorities said. A supervisor asked if he was an airline employee, and "the defendant responded that he was," authorities said.
A flight attendant noticed that he had an Air France ID card and asked "as a matter of courtesy" if he wanted to speak to the pilots, authorities said. The pilot and co-pilot told authorities that he entered the cockpit while they were performing their preflight duties and checks and said he was a Boeing 747 pilot, officials said.
Prosecutors said the gate agent saw the defendant sitting in the jump seat behind the pilot and told him that if he was going to sit there he would have to go back to the check-in gate to complete paperwork and verifications. He left the cockpit but became verbally abusive and was told he could not continue on the flight, authorities said. He later acknowledged to a manager that he was not a pilot, prosecutors said.
In an interview with police officers, prosecutors allege, he said his mother had been an Air France employee and he had falsified her ID card by adding his name, photo and status as a crew member.
Jeannard remains in custody; it's unclear whether he had an attorney on the federal charges. His public defender on the state charges didn't return a message seeking comment.