13-year-old boy boards BA flight without a ticket

Helen Coffey

A 13-year-old boy who managed to board a flight at Heathrow airport without a ticket has prompted a police investigation.

The unaccompanied minor was discovered onboard a British Airways flight to Los Angeles on 14 July after cabin crew asked to see his boarding pass.

When it became clear that he did not have the correct travel documentation, the entire flight was de-planed and passengers had to go through security again.

It is still unclear how the boy managed to get so far undetected.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed the child was identified by cabin crew during the pre-flight check and that he did not have a ticket or any travel documents.

“The boy was an unaccompanied minor,” said a spokesperson. “He is not a UK national.”

Police believe the boy arrived at Heathrow as a transit passenger.

“As a security precaution, passengers de-planed following a discussion between police and the captain,” the spokesperson added.

“He remains in the care of police and liaison continues with the immigration services.”

Passenger Rachel Richardson shared details of the incident on Twitter, writing: “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 onboard.”

Later Richardson added: “Current situation: Off the plane. Tonnes of police with sniffer dogs here. We are in a queue. Unclear what for.”

Two hours and three quarters after the scheduled departure time, passengers were still not back on the aircraft, according to Richardson.

The head of editorial for Snapchat tweeted: “Hey @British_Airways thank you for putting our safety first but it’s totally chaotic here as an entire plane goes back through security. Very little information from staff. Be thankful that the #DjokovicFederer nailbiter is keeping some of us amused.”

A British Airways spokesperson said: “We have apologised 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 enquiries.”

A Heathrow spokesperson confirmed the airport is working with police and the airline to understand how an unauthorised 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,” they said. “We apologise for the disruption and will continue working closely with the authorities and our airline partners to keep the airport safe.”