Mystery Traveler Shows Up at LAX

Accused stowaway Sergey Ochigava flew in from Denmark, says he has no memory of how or why
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2023 9:45 AM CST
Mystery Traveler Shows Up at LAX
   (Getty / Ilija Erceg)

A passenger who flew into Los Angeles International Airport last month from Denmark apparently has quite the story to tell, but he swears he can't remember it. The passenger is identified as Sergey Ochigava, who has Russian and Israeli identity documents, reports 404 Media. He flew into LAX on a Scandinavian Airlines flight from Copenhagen on Nov. 4, but when he got to a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint, he said he'd left his passport on the plane. No such passport turned up in a search, according to an FBI affidavit. As it turns out, Ochigava wasn't supposed to be on the flight from Denmark—he's not on the passenger manifest and had no ticket—and he told authorities he has no memory of how he boarded.

"Ochigava claimed he had not been sleeping for three days and did not understand what was going on," per the affidavit. "Ochigava also would not explain how or when he got to Copenhagen or what he was doing there." The feds have charged him with being an old-fashioned stowaway, and he is now in federal custody awaiting a hearing later this month, reports NBC Los Angeles. Ochigava, who told authorities he's a Russian economist, didn't exactly keep a low profile on his flight to the US. He asked for two meals at every service, tried repeatedly to chat up other passengers, walked around midflight and sat in different seats, and tried to eat chocolate that belonged to the crew, according to the affidavit.

Agents scrolled through his phone with permission and found photos of screens at the Copenhagen airport showing information for flights around the world, per the Washington Post. "Other photographs consisted of screen grabs from the 'Maps' app showing a hostel in Kiel, Germany, and street maps from an unknown foreign city," says the affidavit. It's possible more answers will emerge at his Dec. 26 hearing. For now, Ochigava has pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally boarding the aircraft out of Denmark. (More strange stuff stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.