A retiree who took his son's passport by mistake checked in at Tiger Airways, got through security at Changi Airport and flew to Vietnam, only realizing during the flight that he was carrying the wrong document, news reports said Tuesday, the dpa reported.
Ang Heng Soon headed directly to immigration authorities at Ho Chi Minh City airport, where they put him on the same plane Monday back to Singapore.
He told The Straits Times that he was in such a a hurry to catch the plane that he unwittingly took his 39-year-old son's passport, which was also lying on the family's dining table.
His son, Vincent, an electronics company executive, was waiting to check in for a flight to Hong Kong when he realized he had his father's passport.
Vincent cancelled his flight and went to Tiger Airway's office, where he learned that his father was heading back.
Father and son were reunited, the report said. Both made fresh arrangements and flew off to their respective destinations.
"The question is, how did this happen? From a security point of view, this is pretty shocking," Vincent was quoted as saying.
The immigration officer who looked at Ang's passport and did the "face-to-face verification" let him through because he bore a resemblance to the photo in the passport, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said.
The authorities who erred will be taken to task, said Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng.
"I am totally appalled and flabbergasted at this slipup at the airport checkpoint," he said in a statement.
Wong said he has been reminding officers of the need for vigilance repeatedly after each lapse of human error. "Obviously the message is not sinking in deep enough," he said.
All department heads of the 26,000 officers in the "Home Team" will be calling up their subordinate commanders and managers and tightening scrutiny and supervision on the ground.