A man has been arrested after he lived undetected in Chicago's international airport for close to 90 days, too scared to go home because of Covid-19.
Police in Chicago said Aditya Udai Singh, 33, arrived at the city's busy O'Hare Airport on a flight from Los Angeles on October 19 and lived in security zone until he was arrested on Saturday.
The Los Angeles man managed to go all that time undetected at the airport — which is the world's busiest for takeoffs and landings — and survived off food from passengers.
His plan came unstuck when two United Airlines staffers asked to see his identification and he presented an airport ID badge that had been reported missing by an operations manager in October, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Police were called and Mr Singh was arrested and charged with impersonation in a restricted area of the airport and theft of less than $500.
He appeared in court on a bond hearing on Sunday, where Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Hagerty said the Los Angeles resident hid in the airport because he was "scared to go home due to Covid-19", according to the Tribune.
The case appeared to baffle the Cook County judge overseeing the case.
"So if I understand you correctly, you're telling me that an unauthorised, non-employee individual was allegedly living within a secure part of the O'Hare airport terminal from October 19, 2020, to January 16, 2021, and was not detected? I want to understand you correctly," judge Susana Oritz told the prosecutor, according to the Tribune.
The court heard the unemployed Mr Singh had a master's degree in hospitality and did not have a criminal background.
He was released on bail but barred from entering the airport until his next court appearance later this month.
"The court finds these facts and circumstances quite shocking for the alleged period of time that this occurred," the judge said.
"Being in a secured part of the airport under a fake ID badge allegedly, based upon the need for airports to be absolutely secure so that people feel safe to travel, I do find those alleged actions do make him a danger to the community."
In July, Estonian man Roman Trofimov revealed he spent 100 days trapped inside Manila International Airport because authorities stopped issuing visas for entry into the Philippines due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The roadblock meant Trofimov had to live in the departures hall of the airport until the Estonian consulate was able to have him transferred to a passenger lounge on April 1.
He then made a new home in the passenger lounge until he eventually managed to get on a flight to Tallinn, Estonia, in July.
He said the bureaucratic nightmares started when his passport was taken by AirAsia staff after he flew from Bangkok to Manila with the airline on March 20.
Estonian media reported he was travelling on a "grey passport" for people of "unclear citizenship".
He described his difficult experience of living in the airport — sleeping on the terminal floor, eating in the food court, and washing in the public bathrooms.
"I am a person with disability, my health is getting worse because of malnutrition, lack of sun, and fresh air," he said.
His situation had been likened to Tom Hanks' character in the 2004 film The Terminal, about a European man who is forced to live in New York's JFK airport after being denied entry to the United States.
And in 2018, Syrian man Hassan Al Kontar was forced to spend more than seven months living in Kuala Lumpur International Airport after being denied entry into Malaysia.
Mr Kontar, who had spent the past decade in the United Arab Emirates, was deported to Malaysia but refused a renewed passport by the Syrian government, so he was unable to leave the airport or fly out of the country.
He was eventually able to leave the Philippines after applying for Canadian asylum and was later understood to be living and working in Whistler.