It reads suspiciously like the plot of a Home Alone film. An unaccompanied 11-year-old boy passes through five security checks and heads on a flight from Manchester, England, to Rome without a passport, a boarding pass or even any cash. Astonishingly, this all happened.
Schoolboy Liam Corcoran’s incredible 3,000-mile journey began when he slipped away from his mother while on a shopping trip Tuesday afternoon. He then found his way to Manchester Airport, where he boarded Jet2.com Flight LS791 to Rome.
Less than a week ahead of the Olympic Games, the 11-year-old managed to outmaneuver airport security staff by mingling with several families. Although he was scanned, at no point was he checked for any form of identification nor did airport security officials pick up on the fact that he was traveling alone.
The flight crew was equally oblivious to the presence of the stowaway, failing to take a head count of passengers on board. Jet2.com airline have said that head counts will now become compulsory on their flights. It was only midflight that other passengers noticed Liam’s excitable behavior and relayed their concerns to members of staff.
Fellow passenger Sarah Swayne told the Manchester Evening News, “He was very talkative and seemed quite unfazed by it all. He was just sat there chatting away about how he’d been trying to run away from home.” She added: “He seemed quite innocent really, and I don’t think it had sunk in how serious the situation was.”
At least five airline staff members have been suspended, and a full investigation is under way to determine how, in a period of heightened security, a single child could outfox an entire airport full of security staff. Speaking on BBC News 24 on Wednesday, British Transport Secretary Justine Greening said, “This is an unusual and serious breach, and we are keen to find out what has gone on.”
A Manchester Airport spokesman admitted “it is clear that documentation has not been checked correctly at security and the boarding gate,” and added that “the boy went through full security screening, so the safety of passengers and the aircraft was never compromised.”
Sadly for Liam, his adventure ended when the plane touched down on Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. He was sent back to England immediately and is safely back home with his parents.
This story has been edited to reflect the fact that a head count did not occur on the flight.