WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Frenchman who claimed to be a pilot and landed himself a seat in the cockpit on board a U.S. Airways flight from Philadelphia to West Palm Beach told investigators that his mother was a former pilot and he was using her identification.
Philippe Jeannard, 60, of La Rochelle, France, a city north of Bordeaux in western France, was arrested and now faces federal charges of using a means of identification of another person that is fraudulent and criminal trespass, according to a criminal complaint.
Investigators say Jeannard flew from Paris to Philadelphia on March 20 and was preparing to board U.S. Airways flight 1935 to West Palm Beach.
Jeannard was allegedly wearing a white button down shirt with an Air France logo on it. He was also wearing captain’s epaulets on his shoulder, resembling typical attire of an airplane pilot.
He approached the check-in counter and asked for an upgrade to first class. He became upset after he was told that there were no seats available.
Throughout the boarding process Jeannard continued to be “difficult” and a gate supervisor spoke with him, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in the eastern district of Pennsylvania.
He then told the employee that he worked for the airlines. One of the flight attendants noticed he had an Air France identification card and out of courtesy asked if he wanted to speak with the pilots.
Jeannard joined the pilot and co-pilot while they were performing their pre-flight duties. He told them that he was an Air France Boeing 747 pilot.
The trouble continued when general boarding began and one of the employees who had already encountered Jeannard saw him in the jump seat.
A gate agent had told Jeannard that if he was flying in the jump seat he’d need to fill out some paperwork and go through some verifications.
After hearing that Jeannard already had a confirmed seat assignment, the pilot told him he had to sit in that reserved seat.
While leaving the cockpit, Jeannard became verbally abusive to the gate agent and one of the flight attendants. He then was told he had to get off the plane.
An employee at the gate noticed he was wearing an Air France shirt and then saw him retrieve a sweater from his bag and put it over the shirt. The U.S. Airways Manager then asked if he was an Air France pilot and Jeannard responded that he wasn’t.
He was then taken to the police station in Philadelphia.
While there, investigators conducted a search on him and found an Air France identification with Jeannard’s name, photo, ID number and a description of a crew member on it. In his briefcase, investigators found Air France checklists and flight plans.
He told investigators that his mother was an Air France employee and that he was using his mother’s ID card. He falsified it by putting his name and photograph on it.
Jeannard already faces state charges of criminal trespass, tampering with records, false impersonating and false identification to law enforcement authorities.
On March 21, Air France corporate said that Jeannard is not a current nor a former employee.