Two women have been arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle a dead relative on to a flight out of the country.
The women pushed the 91-year-old man in a wheelchair and covered his face with sunglasses in a bid to board him on their flight to Berlin, sources said.
The pair, a 41-year-old and a 66-year-old, are said to have protested that the lifeless pensioner was merely asleep when probed by officials at Liverpool John Lennon Airport on Saturday.
It is believed the duo had somehow managed to ferry the corpse in a taxi from their home in Oldham, Greater Manchester, to the terminal.
But the bizarre attempt to smuggle the body to Germany quickly fell apart when airport staff began asking questions.
The women were arrested on suspicion of failing to give notification of death.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: "At 11am on Saturday April 3 2010, police at Liverpool John Lennon Airport were alerted to the death of a 91-year-old man in the terminal building.
"Two women aged 41 and 66 were arrested on suspicion of failing to give notification of death.
"They have been released on bail until June 1 2010.
"The coroner has been informed and police are continuing with their inquiries."
A post-mortem examination is due to take place over the next few days.
A member of staff at Broadway Cars in Oldham, who refused to give his name, confirmed they had taken the passengers to Liverpool but declined to comment, saying it was "a big deal" for the business.
An airport spokesman said: "In view of the fact that this incident is currently under police investigation and we understand arrests have been made, we cannot comment any further at this stage."