An unemployed 32-year-old Italian man was stopped at Turin's Caselle Airport on suspicion of using false IDs, a cap and uniform to convince a crew he was a pilot.
Police said the disguise allowed the man to fly for free inside the cockpit aboard a commercial flight from Munich, Germany, to Turin in Italy.
Police said two real pilots flew the Air Dolomiti plane on the flight in April.
The man, who was not identified, did not touch the controls while in the cockpit.
Police caught up with the man at the Turin airport terminal last Wednesday after tailing him for months and receiving a tip.
Italian police described it as a real-life sequel to "Catch Me If You Can," the hit movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the true story about an ingenious con artist masquerading as a commercial airline pilot.
On his Facebook profile, the man also falsely bragged he was a commercial pilot and claimed he was promoted to captain's rank while still young.
The commander of Turin's Carabinieri, Filippo Vanni said that
"the reason he made this choice is that he wanted to created a fake identity, a new and clear personality,"
He said "He wanted to be accepted by his friends and get new friendships in his social circle."
A police statement said the suspect was cited for suspicion of putting at risk the security of air transport and "usurping a title."
When police caught up with him, the suspect was dressed in a pilot's uniform, but without any company logo on it.
He was found sipping coffee at a bar near the check-in area in the terminal and had not passed through security.
A police spokesman said it did not appear that the man was planning on using the same ruse that day and that it was not known if he had pulled off the trick on any other flights.
Air Dolomiti is part of the German airline Lufthansa.
A Lufthansa spokesman insisted that nobody, not even a staff pilot, would be able to fly aboard one of the carrier's planes without having a ticket, indicating that the Italian might have had a passenger ticket.
Italian police said the suspect, after they confronted him, led them to a garage, where officers found piles of clothes similar to pilots' uniforms.
The garage contained neatly pressed white shirts with epaulets, black trousers and jackets, along with fake IDs, all of which were seized by authorities.