Man 'hacks airline computer system to book free business class flights worth €18,000'

Defendant’s lawyer argues he shared his knowledge of the system’s weakness

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 04 March 2020 15:29 GMT
Brussels Airlines has brought a civil action against passenger
Brussels Airlines has brought a civil action against passenger (Brussels Airlines)

A man has reportedly been taken to court for computer sabotage after he hacked an airline’s online system in order to book three free business class flights to New York.

The 25-year-old allegedly hacked Brussels Airlines ticketing system in 2016, using a special application reserved for airline staff to buy the tickets, reports Belgian news agency Belga.

It is reported that he cancelled the flights to get his money back, but managed to manipulate the URL so that the tickets were still valid.

The business class tickets were priced at nearly €6,000 (£5,211) each, putting the airline at a loss of around €18,000.

The carrier has brought a civil action against the perpetrator, and is claiming €20,000 to cover the cost of the flights plus extra expenses.

Brussels Airlines’ legal representative said: “We are asking for the cost of the three business tickets to New York, some airport taxes for the cancelled tickets and €1,000 in additional fees that we had paid to secure the systems.”

However, the man’s lawyer has argued that the extra €1,000 shouldn’t have to be paid by the defendant, as he helped the airline by showing it the weakness of their previous computer system.

The judgement is on 30 March.

The Independent has asked Brussels Airlines to comment on the incident.

It’s not the first time a traveller has fraudulently attempted to get preferential treatment.

In November 2019, a man was caught attempting to impersonate a pilot at Delhi airport in India.

Mr Rajan Mahbubani tried to board an AirAsia flight while pretending to be a Lufthansa pilot in order to receive preferential treatment.

However, he was apprehended before he could get on the I5-579 service to Kolkata.

Wearing a Lufthansa uniform, with a fake ID card he’d reportedly obtained in Bangkok, Mr Mahbubani claimed to have successfully made the journey between Delhi and Kolkata more than 15 times in the last six months using the same subterfuge, reports the Times of India.

While he was in possession of valid flight tickets each time, Mr Mahbubani used the ruse to get free upgrades, lounge access and direct access to the plane without queueing with other passengers.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in