British Airways passengers aboard BA269 bound for Los Angeles had their flight delayed on Sunday due to the discovery of a 12-year-old stowaway.
The boy was discovered to be traveling alone without a boarding pass or ticket. As a result, the transatlantic flight was delayed for almost five hours.
Mingling with other passengers at the boarding gate the unaccompanied boy made his way to the plane. When a flight attendant tried to direct him to his seat the 12-year-old was caught ticket-less.
When pushed to confirm his identity and his reason for being on the flight he refused to cooperate. The British Airways team on board the A380 were left with no alternative but to call the police in order to remove the child from the flight.
Reports The Telegraph, the boy was also reluctant to say whether or not he had checked luggage onto the flight. Thus the plane was subsequently emptied and further security checks were carried out.
The flight was, in the end, delayed by almost five hours.
Identity of the stowaway
Following the arrest, police have been keen to find out who the boy is and his nationality. Scotland Yard is also seeking a motive for his boarding the A380. How the boy reached the interior of a plane he was not scheduled to be on is also to be investigated.
Of his reason for being at the airport, the current theory is that the 12-year-old arrived in Heathrow on an inbound flight. However, where his flight originated is not yet known. Passengers on board suspected he was Dutch but this has not been confirmed.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard told The Telegraph,
“A 12-year-old boy boarded a BA flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles at around 17:15hrs on 14 July. 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.”
The Telegraph suggests his boarding BA269 was part of an “elaborate dare”.
The incident will cause some to question the efficacy of Heathrow’s security points, and whether passenger safety was compromised. But British Airways insists the 12-year-old did not pose a security risk, having already passed through the security checks of his inbound flight.
A spokesman for BA directed us to their official 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.”
The Evening Standard published a succession of tweets from one of the passengers, Rachel Richardson. She was due to fly to Los Angeles for business but was instead a victim of the ensuing delays.
She thought BA’s security measures were admirable but found the delays “frustrating”.
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. Big security breach. So much fun for everyone on board 🤪 We were meant to take off at 4.15pm. It’s nearly 6pm 😬
— Rachel Richardson (@RachelARich) 14 July 2019
Later she reported on her deplaning, adding, “Tonnes of police sniffer dogs here”.
In response to our request for more information, a Heathrow spokesperson told us: “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.”