British Child Flies to Rome Without Airline Ticket or Passport

You’re an 11-year-old boy, roped into a fate worse than death: shopping at the mall with mom. What to do? Young Liam Corcoran of Manchester, England, solved this by slipping away to the airport and hopping a flight to Rome.

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The lad had neither passport nor ticket but managed to get through airport and airline representatives as well as the increased security in force in anticipation of this week’s Olympic Games in London. It wasn’t until his Jet2.com flight was well underway to Fiumicino Airport that the boy was discovered. After the plane landed in Italy, he remained on board and was later flown home for a reunion with his family the same day. So how could this happen?

Safe Flight Guide for Children

Airline, Airport Personnel Suspended

At least three separate investigations are now underway, but it appears the boy attached himself to a family which provided camouflage of sorts. Neither airline personnel nor security asked to see a boarding pass or any other kind of documentation, although he did go through the security screening process. Later on the plane, flight attendants did an inaccurate head-count – it wasn’t until fellow passengers began questioning his presence that he was found out.

The TSA’s Child Problem

The British Transport Secretary said this breach of security is being taken “very, very seriously” and an unknown number of airport and airline employees have been suspended. Meanwhile, an airport spokesman appeared to be trying to put a good face on things by saying, “This was a young lad on an adventure.” Not all such adventures end so well.

Another Stowaway Incident Ends Tragically

In November 2010, U.S. authorities believe 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale breached security at Charlotte International, then got into the wheel-well of a jetliner there before ultimately falling from the plane to his death as the aircraft approached Boston. The incident prompted Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) to note, “There is no such thing as 100%, secure, but a teenage boy ought to not be able to get through [an airport’s perimeter].”

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Did Family Travel Stress Play a Part?

Other questions being raised is why the family young Liam attached himself to didn’t notice an extra child, although it’s possible they didn’t consider him to be part of their group. It may also be that the stress of flying as a family made the presence of an extra child the least of their problems. Earlier this year, United Airlines announced it was dropping early boarding for families with young children, while other carriers have made sitting together more difficult thanks to fees for preferred seats.

As for the traveling Mr. Corcoran, there is speculation in the British press that he and his family will now sell the story of the adventure to a national publication.

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Published: July 25, 2012