A 12-year-old boy managed to get around stepped up security and board a jetliner at an airport outside London without a passport or a boarding pass.
The boy was discovered by cabin crew and turned over to airport police. Officials said they could not explain how he got aboard the plane, especially in light of security checks imposed last week after authorities foiled an alleged plot to bomb jetliners leaving Britain.
The youngster, who was not named because of his age, left a children's home near Liverpool and began the 245-mile journey Monday by taking a train to London and then going to Gatwick airport outside the city, said Phil Green, spokesman for the Wigan town council, which oversees the boy's care.
"Police were alerted as soon as it was realized he had absconded," Green said.
Once at Gatwick, the boy dodged stringent airport security and made his way aboard a 6 a.m. Monarch Airlines flight to Lisbon, Portugal.
He was noticed by a staff member and taken to the airport's police station before the plane departed.
Christine Smith, a Sussex police spokeswoman, said the boy waited in the station until social services officials arrived. "As far as I'm aware he was quite well-behaved," she said.
The British Airports Authority said it was investigating the incident.
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