Ameer Thaha (35) and Mansoor (19) reportedly used a HDFC Master Card to buy J Class tickets priced around Rs 36,000 for the New Delhi-bound flight that was scheduled to take off at 11.30 am on Oct 3.
Immediately after boarding the plane, Mansoor and Thaha took photos of its uber-luxury section. Then the duo told the cabin crew that they had left behind a bag containing important bonds in the security lounge.
Seeing that the excuse was not enough, Mansoor and Thaha claimed to be suddenly feeling unwell. The commotion they created forced the pilot to inform the Air Traffic Control that two passengers have to get down.
As Mansoor and Thaha proceeded to the lounge supposedly to pick up their bag, Central Industrial Security Force personnel interrogated them. The duo initially stuck to the lost baggage version.
However, it became clear following a thorough check of the other passengers and their bags that the suspects had not placed any bomb inside the aircraft.
Although the flight subsequently took off, CISF personnel grilled Mansoor and Thaha for hours before handing them over to the Airport Police around 5 pm.
Officials from the Home Ministry, RAW and the 'Q' Branch had by then come to the Chennai airport to question the suspects. Mansoor and Thaha averred that they had clicked pictures inside Air India's much-hyped plane just to show the same off to friends.
The duo further revealed that their plan was to ask for refund since they had not actually flown to New Delhi. Nevertheless, Air India is unlikely to pay even a fraction of the ticket price to Mansoor and Thaha.
Incidentally, investigators have asked Kerala police to find out more about the suspects. Both hail from the state's Ernakulam district. Mansoor is said to be studying at a private college in Cochin. Thaha is a former member of the NDF that was banned when the outfit's links to some terror plots became public knowledge.
There are unconfirmed reports of the suspects having boarded another Air India flight on Oct 2 and staging a similar drama on that occasion too.