Rock Diaz, American Airlines Passenger, Impersonates Soldier to Get into First Class

Rock Diaz flew first class from the Dominican Republic to New York Friday on a coach ticket and all he had to do to get bumped up was impersonate a military officer.

The New York Post reports that the Long Island man, who boarded the American Airline's plane in fatigues, dog tags and a military cap, was offered a spot in first class by a stewardess who had concluded logically, if wrongfully, that he was a soldier.

Diaz's ruse was only discovered when he landed and a customs officer asked him his rank. Diaz told him he was "E-5," which is a pay grade, not a rank. Diaz's dog tags apparently said "U.S.A. Marines Corp" and he was wearing patches in all the wrong places.

Diaz told the Post that he had not asked to be upgraded, only followed a flight attendant's instructions, an argument significantly undermined by pictures taken in 2009 showing him wearing a similar outfit while hanging out in an airline cockpit.

He was charged with second-degree impersonation, a felony under New York Law. To be charged with first-degree impersonation, Diaz would have had to pretend to be a law enforcement official or a physician.

Many airlines have standing policies - both official and unofficial - to bump soldiers up when there are empty first class seats. Thanks to a recent furor that erupted when Delta charged a group of servicemen $2,800 to carry extra baggage, soldiers are given a greater luggage allowance on most airlines as well.

Any debate surrounding the perks that soldiers deserve or that airlines graciously hand out is certainly undermined by impostors like Diaz. We here at Aol Travel are wagging our fingers so hard we're probably going to pull something.

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