After coming to the United States five years ago to complete a master’s degree program, Aditya Singh said goodbye to his friends in California on Oct. 19 and boarded a Chicago-bound flight from Los Angeles to begin his journey home to India.
He never made it. In a troubling series of events that raises security questions at one of the world’s busiest airports, authorities allege Singh lived undetected for nearly three months at O’Hare until this past weekend, when someone finally noticed and alerted police.
On Monday, he remained in the Cook County Jail on charges alleging felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanor theft. He is due in court Jan. 27.
Singh, 36, lived in the secure area with access to terminals, shops and food at O’Hare International Airport until his arrest Saturday after two United Airlines employees asked to see his identification, prosecutors said. He showed them an airport ID badge that an operations manager had reported missing on Oct. 26.
Police said Singh told them that the coronavirus pandemic left him too afraid to fly and so he instead remained in the airport, often relying on the kindness of strangers to buy him food. His arrest made national headlines, with comparisons to the 2004 Tom Hanks movie, “The Terminal.”
An airport official told the Tribune it is unclear if Singh stole the badge or found it. After it was reported missing, the badge would have been deactivated, according to the official, who said if Singh attempted to use it to enter a restricted area, his access would be denied and an alarm would trigger.