The co-pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 invited South African tourists into the cockpit of previous flights where he smoked cigarettes and took photographs with the pair.
In a stunning lapse of security, Fariq Abdul Hamid and his fellow pilot invited passengers Jonti Roos and Jaan Maree into the cockpit for the flight from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur, breaking Malaysia Airlines rules.
Roos, a tourist travelling Australia, told American television show A Current Affair how Hamid posed for pictures with her and her friend and smoked cigarettes throughout their encounter.
"Throughout the entire flight they were talking to us and they were actually smoking throughout the flight which I don't think they're allowed to do," Roos said.
"At one stage they were pretty much turned around the whole time in their seats talking to us.
"They were so engaged in conversation that he took my friends hand and he was looking at her palm and said "your hand is very creased. That means you're a creative person" and commented on her nail polish."
Flight MH370 was cruising at 35,000ft when it lost contact with aviation authorities, but no distress signal was released by the pilots.
The flight was carrying 227 passengers including two children and 12 crew members, 152 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians, 12 people from Indonesia and six from Australia.
Two of the passengers were discovered to have boarded the flight using stolen passports.
Roos could not believe that Hamid was at the helm of the lost Malaysia Airlines flight.
"I thought it was crazy. I was just completely chocked. I couldn't believe it," she said.
"When I saw all his friends and family posting on his wall my heart really broke for them and my heart broke for the family of the passengers. It's just a really sad story."
Hamid began talking to the South African pair in the boarding queue before departure at Phuket airport in December 2011.
An aircraft steward greeted the women and asked if they wished to join the pilots in the cockpit, to which they accepted. Roos maintains that she didn't feel endangered at any point.
"I did feel safe. I don't think there was one instance where I felt threatened or I felt that they didn't know what they were doing," she continued.
"The whole time I felt they were very friendly. I felt they were very competent in what they were doing.
"We wished they would stop smoking because it is such a confined space. But you can't exactly tell a pilot to stop smoking."
The mystery surrounding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has deepened with the Chinese media reporting that several of the passengers' mobile phones were connecting when called by relatives, but the calls were not picked up.
Two men from different locations in the Malaysian state of Kelantan have claimed to have spotted the aircraft plunging into the sea at approximately the same location and time.