Passengers on board an Air France flight found a baby hidden inside a woman’s carry-on bag on Monday.
One passenger said he knew something was amiss when a woman’s carry-on bag started moving around by itself, according to Fox News. Flight attendants subsequently opened the piece of luggage and found a baby inside. Metro quoted a witness telling the French website Planet.fr about the bizarre event.
“The bag belonged to a woman sat near the back of the plane,” said the passenger, a 36-year-old man named Vincent. “At one point she wanted to open it and her neighbour on the other row of seats saw there was something hidden in the interior. He alerted the crew who discovered inside a baby aged one or two.”
A crew member who saw the incident also said they were “very shocked.”
The discovery was made mid-way through Air France flight 1891 from Istanbul to Paris. The Airbus 319 was headed to the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris, and took off from Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport.
Air France officials stated that they sought “the presence of French authorities on the flight’s arrival” to deal with the situation, according to Fox News. Cabin crew promptly moved the woman and the child to the front of the plane, where they stayed until it landed. A crew announcement was not made in order to “reassure passengers.”
French authorities are saying that the woman did not have a valid ticket for the child and they are currently investigating why the woman decided to sneak the child on board.
No details regarding the identity of the woman or the baby have been released to the public, though an anonymous source at Charles de Gaulle Airport quoted by French media outlet The Local claims that the woman, a French resident, was in the process of trying to adopt the child, who was from Haiti.
“She was apparently in the transit zone in Istanbul, and had crossed the customs checkpoint with the child, when she was prevented from boarding a flight with her,” said the source. “[She then] decided to hide the child in a bag to get aboard another flight, after buying a new ticket. Once on board, she placed the child at her feet, under a blanket, but the girl needed to go to the toilet and was noticed by other passengers.”
At this time it is not clear how the infant was smuggled on board the flight, or how a piece of luggage containing a baby was able to make it past security. It is possible she kept the child out of the bag during the security check. According to Mirror UK, Turkish authorities refused to allow the infant girl to board the flight to Paris because the woman was banned from taking the child out of the country.
Stranger still, the official website of Air France makes it clear that young children are eligible for reduced price tickets, and kids younger than two years old typically fly for free, though only on flights within metropolitan France. Parents traveling with infants also get a reduced fare on international flights and are given priority boarding.
The woman was taken into custody upon landing. Prosecutors have reportedly decided not to press charges, though the woman and the child are still being detained at the airport while authorities continue to investigate the case.
“The company requested the presence of the French authorities to flight arrival,” A spokesman for Air France said. “And [will] fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation by the competent authorities.”
Despite being held inside a bag for several hours, the child is reportedly well.
[Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]