Should I Have Reported This Passenger To Immigration?

Should I Have Reported This Passenger To Immigration?
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I’m curious what you guys make of this situation. Yesterday I flew Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to New York. More on the flight as such in another post, but something strange happened upon landing.

I’m not sure where this falls on the scale of “if you see something, say something” to “snitches get stitches/mind your own business.”

Let me say that in general my default mentality is to give people the benefit of the doubt on things, unless I feel really confident about something. Maybe that’s wrong, but part of the reason I feel this way is because so many people have used prejudices (racial, religious, etc.) to accuse people of things they didn’t do.

For example, we’ve seen a countless number of stories of people reporting passengers to airport police for nothing more than speaking their native language.

Anyway, after landing in New York the seatbelt sign was turned off. I was in the last row of business class, and was standing in the galley by the second set of doors near one of the flight attendants waiting for the main cabin door to open. The flight attendant closed the curtain to economy.

At that point a guy walked through the curtains from economy with a big duffel bag in hand, manually unlocked the bathroom door, and darted in. That’s to say that the bathroom door was locked, but he knew how to unlock it (this involves lifting the latch), and it’s something that only crew members are supposed to do.

The flight attendant quickly responded. “Sir, you can’t do that.” The flight attendant even pushed the door open a little bit to prevent him from doing this, but the guy just responded by holding it closed.

At this point the flight attendant called the captain, though there was no answer — I’m guessing the pilots were ready to get out of the plane and didn’t hear it ringing.

Now here’s the thing — it’s one thing if the guy said “sorry, I really have to go to the bathroom” or was feeling unwell or whatever. That happens, and is totally legitimate. But he refused to follow crew instructions, manually opened a bathroom door that he wasn’t supposed to, and was acting quite suspiciously.

It took probably about five minutes for the cabin door to open, and in that time there were no sounds (including flushing) or obvious smells coming from the bathroom.

At that point I walked off the plane (with the guy still in the bathroom), and spent my walk to immigration thinking about whether I should report what I considered to be a suspicious situation:

  • The behavior was suspicious, though suspicious doesn’t necessarily mean nefarious (I’m often accused of being suspicious for my picture taking, so…!)
  • Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of “Locked Up Abroad,” but the behavior he exhibited matched what I’d expect from someone who has something to hide
  • If this were a US airline I wouldn’t have said anything because I’d be certain the crew would report him, call the police, etc., but I didn’t think this crew was going to report this, even though the flight attendant found this concerning; that’s just a guess, but after a long flight and being in a foreign country I’m guessing they just wanted to get to their hotel and didn’t want to complicate things, because if they reported it they might have to be interviewed, complete paperwork, etc.

So in the end I didn’t say anything. I shared the story with Ford, and he said he would have said something.

To be clear, if I had said something, I would have just explained the behavior that I saw and would have described the guy. I wouldn’t suggest anything beyond that.

Would you have said something to an immigration officer in this situation?



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