The 36-year-old, who has not been named, arrived at the international terminal of Italy’s busiest airport at the end of last month with a backpack and a can of beer in his hand.
The Norwegian was due to check in for a flight to Oslo and when he found no one on duty at the airline desk he leapt across the counter and fell into a deep asleep on the baggage belt with his bag beside him.
As the belt began to move the unsuspecting tourist reportedly travelled for 15 minutes through the secure baggage area in Terminal 3 before officials spotted his body curled up in a foetal position in an X-ray image on their monitors.
He slept through the whole episode and airport police had trouble waking him when they were called to the scene to investigate what had happened.
A senior officer with Fiumicino airport police said on Thursday the incident exposed no weaknesses in the terminal’s security and it was not the first kind of incident involving “drunks or people with psychological problems”.
“There’s usually an episode like this once a year and we are alert,” the official said. “In this case we were notified we sounded the alarm immediately and we took action.”
Another police officer told the Italian daily, La Repubblica : “It’s impossible to avoid a situation like this if there’s no employee at the check-in desk.”
Concerned about the tourist’s exposure to the powerful X-rays, police took him to a nearby hospital before reporting him to prosecutors at Civitavecchia for causing alarm at the airport. Inquiries are continuing.