London: In an embarrassing turn of events, a staff magazine of British Airways carried a front-page photo of Osama bin Laden, labelling him as a frequent flyer with the airlines.
BA’s in-house Heathrow newspaper LHR News showed a photo illustrating a scheme to let passengers receive their boarding pass via their iPhones.
The photo shows a smiling check-in steward greeting a happy passenger while another holds his iPhone up to the camera. A close-up shows a white boarding pass bearing the name Bin Laden/Osama.
To compound BA’s embarrassment, the pass also classes the world’s most wanted terrorist as a “frequent flyer”.
The gaffe doesn’t end there – Osama’s seat is 7C, which would put him firmly in the luxury of First Class.
“It looks as if BA has been sabotaged most successfully by an internal source,” The Daily Express quoted Tory MP Patrick Mercer, who has served as chairman of the House of Commons sub-committee on counter-terrorism, as saying.
“While this may be light-hearted, it is worth looking at the serious security implications. It does focus the mind on how much easier our enemies might find it to get a legitimate boarding pass under a system using mobile phones.”
“And as the flight on the boarding pass is going to Washington, I have no doubt that this will awaken some extremely painful memories,” he added.
A BA spokesman played down any suggestion that there was malicious intent behind the front page of the magazine.
“A mistake has been made in this internal publication. We are working to find out how this occurred.”