Man Lives in Airport Because He Couldn’t Afford Change Fee on Ticket

It’s not uncommon for people to ‘live’ in airports. They’re heated, provide shelter, and restrooms. Many airports have several homeless people spending time there.

Two years ago a man spent 18 days living in the Singapore Changi airport using fake boarding passes and a Priority Pass card to access the airport’s myriad lounges.

He visited 9 different Priority Pass lounges at the airport:

  • Dnata Lounge at Terminal 1 and Terminal 3;
  • Sats Premier Lounge at Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3;
  • Plaza Premium Lounge at Terminal 1;
  • Ambassador Transit Lounge at Terminal 2 and Terminal 3; and
  • The Green Market Lounge at Terminal 2

That’s a very different story than Mehran Karimi Nasseri — the real life story behind the Tom Hanks film The Terminal.

The man spent 18 years living in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport’s terminal 1. He reported being kicked out of Iran for protesting the Shah, and eventually granted refugee status in Belgium. He moved to the UK, but lost his papers when he says his briefcase was stolen. As a result when he returned to Britain border officials refused his entry, and sent him back on a flight to Paris where he had come from.

Nasseri was offered residence in France and in Belgium, but wouldn’t sign papers agreeing to it because those listed him as being Iranian and he wanted to be a UK citizen where he says his father is from, and because he wanted the documents to reflect the name Sir Alfred Mehran.

Recently a Taiwanese man spent more than a week living in the Perth, Australia airport but not because he lacked documents. He ran out of money and was waiting to fly home in several weeks. He couldn’t afford to change his ticket on Singapore Airlines low cost carrier Scoot.

[The man] had been in [Western Australia] on a working visa since July, had a return ticket booked for October 5, but couldn’t afford to change his ticket to an earlier date. So he planned to stay at the airport for the next month.

He said he hadn’t showered or slept properly in a week and was living off a loaf of bread, packet noodles and tuna.

…The Australian Federal Police noticed Mr Lee sleeping at the airport and contacted Menzies Aviation passenger services manager Kathryn Weeks to see if she could help.

Scoot agreed to change his ticket at no charge.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. says asian miler – who is so good at writing blogs that his blog articles have exactly zero comments

  2. @Asian Miler – I sorta thought some people might find it interesting. Sorry to hear that you didn’t. No doubt there are others in that camp as well!

  3. Most articles I read, some I pass. Have not ever had a gun to my head to read your articles. Some people will “B” about anything. This one was interesting!

  4. Gary:

    I thought it was very interesting. Indeed I could have read more. It’s a fascinating concept … apparently Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg thought so too.

  5. This is the most important news of the day brought to us by self-proclaimed travel expert Gary what’s his name. Lol

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