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Security Tension High After Schoolboy Boarded Flight Without Passport or Ticket

July 25, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
Eleven-year-old Liam Corcoran arrived at Manchester Airport in Britain with no ticket, passport or boarding pass; somehow he evaded five security checkpoints and flew to Rome. Independent Television News' Ciaran Jenkins reports on measures to tighten security ahead of the London Olympics.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: the school boy stowaway who slipped onto a jet in England and ended up in Italy.

Ciaran Jenkins of Independent Television News tells the story.

CIARAN JENKINS: Liam Corcoran flew Jet2 to Rome yesterday afternoon, and nobody knew he was there, which is surprising, given that Liam is 11 years old and had no money, no passport, and no ticket.

RUSSELL CRAIG, Manchester Airport: We’re certainly not proud of what’s happened, and that’s why we and the airline are doing an investigation. Now, if you think about what security is like at this time of year, there’s lots of families traveling on holiday.

An 11-year-old boy turns up. He’s very confident. He’s mingled with other families, presented himself to security. At that point, we should have realized he didn’t have a boarding card.

CIARAN JENKINS: What he did have was a knack for evading detection, wandering off from his mom while they were out shopping and then somehow navigating the three miles from Wythenshawe shops to Manchester Airport.

Now only the meticulous security checks of an Olympic host nation stood between him and Italy. Anyone who has flown recently will know just how tough they are on what you can take on board, no oversized luggage, no big bottles of water. But if he’s cunning enough to slip alongside you, you can take on an 11-year-old boy without anyone really noticing.

Tagged along with a family, Liam slid past security, where he should have been asked for his boarding card and passport. Of course, he had neither, and yet he still eased through the second check at the boarding gate.

Finally, he snuck on to the plane, this time without cabin crew seeing his boarding card or spotting him during a routine head count. Liam’s adventure only ended when fellow passengers clocked he was alone.

JUSTINE GREENING, British transportation secretary: It is obviously quite an exceptional thing that has happened. But we need to learn from it and then take the necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.  

CIARAN JENKINS: Jet2 said they’re investigating the incident and have suspended three members of staff. They put Liam on the return plane home and he was reunited last night with his mom.