When he dared to reach into the pocket of doom — otherwise known by most economy flyers as the pocket of the seat in front of him — this passenger got quite a shock.
And it wasn't because he came across the usual handful of used tissues, half-eaten biscuits or food stained safety card.
Instead, he pulled out something he never should have seen, nor any other passenger for that matter, reports new.com.au.
The flyer, who happened to be a rather lucky CNN reporter, had stumbled across top-secret US government documents that were marked "for official use only" and "important for homeland security".
The Department of Homeland Security files contained sensitive Super Bowl anti-terrorism information. They were left behind on a commercial flight, along with the boarding pass and travel itinerary of a scientist in charge of anthrax drills ahead of Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Sunday.
The documents included a note that they should be locked up after business hours, shredded prior to being discarded and were intended only for the eyes of those with "an operational need-to-know".
CNN reports the documents, dated December 2017, criticised the planned response to an anthrax attack on the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis by terrorists, and made recommendations for improvement based on simulation exercises carried out to assess the authorities' ability to respond to a biological attack in a co-ordinated manner.
CNN said they made the decision not to report on the discovery of the papers until after the game, because Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials expressed concern that publishing the news could jeopardise security at the event, attended by 73,000 people.
The network has also opted not to publish much of the information found in the documents, which could threaten national security.
A DHS official told CNN that the issues in the report had been addressed and that the agency had "great confidence" in its ability to respond to an attack.
Juliette Kayyem, a former DHS official who is now a CNN contributor, told the network that the report was typical of the kind of reviews carried out before a major event, but revealed a weakness in the Department of Homeland Security.
"The biggest consequence of this mistake may have less to do with terrorists knowing our vulnerabilities and more to do with confidence in the Department of Homeland Security," Kayyem said.
CNN said while they were unable to verify who left the documents on the plane, they were accompanied by the travel itinerary and boarding pass of a Michael V. Walter, program manager of BioWatch, a DHS program.