A pilot aboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 once allowed passengers to sit in the cockpit during take-off and landing, a woman told an Australian TV show Tuesday.
Jonty Roos said that she and a friend were on vacation in Thailand when they were invited into to the flight deck by two pilots – one of whom she identified as Fariq bin Ab Hamid, the 27-year-old first officer on the missing Boeing 777.
In an exclusive interview with Channel 9’s “A Current Affair,” Roos said photographs show her and her friend posing with Ab Hamid on the ground after the 2011 Malaysia Airlines flight, from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur.
She said that Ab Hamid and the other, unidentified, pilot smoked during the flight and offered to take the women out if they stayed in Kuala Lumpur. Her claims could not immediately be verified by NBC News.
Most international airlines strictly prohibit cockpit visits while an aircraft is not parked at a gate. Rules were further tightened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and many airlines prohibit passengers from even being in the forward galley of an aircraft while the cockpit door is open, such as when a pilot uses the bathroom.
“We were standing in line at the boarding gate, just with everybody else and the pilot and co-pilot walked past us and came back and asked us if we would like to sit with them in the cockpit during the flight so obviously we said ‘yes’,” Roos said. “I think anyone would have jumped at the opportunity.”
“Throughout the whole flight they were talking to us, they were actually smoking through the flight which I don’t think they’re allowed to be doing. They were taking photos with us in the cockpit while they were flying. I was just completely shocked.”
The airline said it was "shocked" by the allegations, which it said were being taken "very seriously."
"We have not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures and videos of the alleged incident," it said in a statement. "As you are aware, we are in the midst of a crisis, and we do not want our attention to be diverted.
"The welfare of both the crew and passenger's families remain our focus. At the same time, the security and safety of our passengers is of the utmost importance to us."
Roos, who is from Melbourne, Australia, added that the pilots were “possibly a little bit sleazy." She added: “They asked us if we could arrange our trip to stay in Kuala Lumpur for a few nights…they could take us out.”
However, Roos said she felt “safe,” adding: “I felt that they were very competent.”
“I’m really not saying that I think co-pilot was in the wrong on this flight at all but this is just a little bit of information [about MH370] that I have.”
CNBC's Ginny Goh contributed to this report.
First published March 11 2014, 4:42 AM