Hot Ticket: The Airlines' First-Class Problem

A crime ring is burglarizing travel agencies as part of a scheme to smuggle thousands of illegal aliens

Large numbers of Hispanic passengers are nothing unusual on flights at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Ariz. But there was something not quite right about the group of more than 100 Hispanics boarding Delta's Flight 1800, a red-eye to Atlanta, on Tuesday, Feb. 16. When the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service was brought in to investigate, sure enough, 102 of the 186 passengers were illegal aliens. Two days later, the INS checked another Phoenix flight, American Trans Air Flight 751 to Chicago. Of the 171 passengers aboard, 60 were illegals. Another ATA flight later that day turned up 29 more.


Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!