A police investigation is underway at Heathrow, London’s biggest airport, after a 12-year-old boy managed to slip past security and board a plane headed to Los Angeles despite not having a ticket.
The British Airways cabin crew found the boy on board the aircraft on July 14 and asked to see his boarding pass.
The boy is believed to have been screened at airport security. Investigators, however, are looking into how he managed to bypass checks at the gate and board the plane.
“He was identified by cabin crew during pre-flight check. He did not have a ticket or any travel documents," a spokesman for Scotland Yard said. "The boy was an unaccompanied minor. He is not a UK national. As a security precaution, passenger de-planed following a discussion between police and the captain. The child is believed to have arrived at Heathrow as a transit passenger.”
According to passenger Rachel Richardson, the incident caused several hours of delays. She said she saw police with dogs arriving on the scene shortly after all passengers were escorted off the plane.
“So I survived my six hour wait at Heathrow but am now delayed on the tarmac because a young boy made his way onto our plane – BA269 – without a ticket," she tweeted. "Big security breach. So much fun for everyone on board. We were meant to take off at 4.15pm. It’s nearly 6pm.”
Passengers reported that the entire plane was screened by security again after the breach. The plane took off five hours after its original departure time.
British Airways said in a statement: “We have apologized to our customers for the delay to their flight after an issue during boarding. The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and everyone who had boarded the aircraft had been subject to security checks. We conducted additional precautionary screening as soon as this issue came to light and we are assisting the police with their inquiries.”
The Telegraph reported that the boy refused to leave the aircraft at first but was eventually removed from the plane by police officers who arrived to assist the British Airways flight crew.
A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport said in a statement, “We are working with our police colleagues and British Airways to understand how an unauthorized passenger boarded the incorrect aircraft. The individual did not represent a security risk and, purely as a precaution, the aircraft in question was re-screened and has since departed. We apologize for the disruption and will continue working closely with the authorities and our airline partners to keep the airport safe.”