- Associated Press - Thursday, February 9, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - It’s safe to say Oscar is the most popular passenger on Flight 531.

Two Oscar statuettes traveled alongside film academy president Tom Sherak aboard the United Airlines flight from Chicago to Los Angeles, which was renamed Oscar 1 for the occasion.

The golden guys were embraced hundreds of times as passengers snapped photos of themselves with the coveted trophy.

Airline workers also held an Oscar-related trivia contest for passengers on board and awarded prizes from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A flight attendant called the occasion a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” as she invited passengers to enjoy “the flight of the Oscars.”

The statuettes are made in Chicago and typically shipped to Los Angeles with little fanfare. So why have Oscar mix it up with passengers?

Just for fun. That’s what the academy president says.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Oscar had his own boarding pass _ and a major entourage _ as he boarded a commercial flight named in his honor from Chicago to Los Angeles on Thursday.

Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, carried Oscar through O’Hare International Airport, much to the astonishment of ticketed passengers who lined up for a chance to be photographed with the golden statuette.

The pilot of the United Airlines flight, “Oscar 1,” allowed Oscar into the cockpit of the 757 before takeoff, calling the statuette his most prestigious “non-human” passenger yet.

“It’s a special treat. We want everyone to enjoy the flight and enjoy the show,” Capt. Mel Mason Jnr. said.

Sherak and other academy officials are personally escorting 42 of the coveted trophies back to academy headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif., from the R.S. Owens foundry in suburban Chicago. Sherak said passengers would have a chance to meet Oscar during the 4 1/2-hour flight _ but warned of the potential for disruption.

“We’ll see how the speeches go,” Sherak said. “It could be a seven hour flight.”

The gushing words of thanks began before the golden guy even left the ground, with a trio of flight attendants making acceptance speeches at the airport. One thanked her mom, one thanked Jesus and the other thanked the Transportation Security Administration.

The Oscars will be presented Feb. 26.