Police at Heathrow Airport are investigating how a 12-year-old boy was able to board a flight to Los Angeles without a ticket.
The boy, who was unaccompanied, reportedly slipped through security at Heathrow Airport and boarded the British Airways flight to LA and mingled with passengers getting on the Sunday flight before being spotted without travel documents when cabin crew asked to see his boarding pass.
The mystery youngster, thought to be Dutch, reportedly refused to cooperate with cabin crew when he was challenged.
Fellow passengers said he refused to leave the aircraft and was eventually removed by police officers who boarded to assist aircrew, according to The Telegraph.
As a result of the security lapse, the aircraft was cleared and all passengers underwent a second security check, delaying the flight by more than four hours.
Authorities are investigating how the boy was able to pass through several strict security checkpoints without being spotted.
A spokesperson for British Airways told The Telegraph the boy had been through the same controls as all other passengers.
“We have apologised to our customers for the delay to their flight after an issue during boarding,” the spokesperson said.
“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.”
The airline said it conducted additional screening as a precaution as soon as the issue came to light.
“We are assisting the police with their enquiries.”
Rachel Richardson, who was on board the flight to LA on business, described the chaos as airline staff tried to deal with the situation.
“The boy would not speak to the cabin crew and they were asking if anybody spoke Dutch. He would not help them understand where his bags were so the whole aircraft had to be cleared which meant we were almost more than four hours delayed taking off. It was very frustrating,” Richardson said.
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said the boy was not a UK citizen and that he was believed to have arrived on transit from another flight.
A Heathrow Airport spokesperson told The Telegraph it was working with police and British Airways to understand how the boy boarded the flight.
“We are working with our police colleagues and British Airways to understand how an unauthorised passenger boarded the incorrect aircraft,” the spokesperson said.
“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 apologise for the disruption and will continue working closely with the authorities and our airline partners to keep the airport safe.”