Many kids manage to slip away from their parents in shopping centers during summer vacations, but an 11-year-old boy from Manchester, England, got farther away than most this week.
He went to Manchester Airport, snuck past passport control and boarding pass checks, went though a metal detector and was on a plane halfway to Rome before anyone realized there was anything unusual going on, an airport spokesman said Wednesday.
The boy was reported missing on Tuesday at 12:40 p.m. after his mother lost track of him at a shopping center in Wythenshawe, police said.
His plane took off an hour and 20 minutes later from Manchester Airport, about two miles from the shopping center.
"He had run off from his mum," said airport spokesman John Greenway.
"He got himself to the airport. It looks like he evaded some passport checks and some boarding pass checks and ended up in Rome," Greenway said.
He was noticed while the flight was in the air and sent back home when the plane returned to England, Greenway said.
"Flight crew and the Italian authorities made sure he stayed on the plane. He left here yesterday at 2 p.m. and got home about 9 p.m.," Greenway said.
Airport staff members have been suspended and an investigation is under way, he said.
The airport insists that the incident was not a security breach.
"The boy went through full security screening so the safety of passengers and the aircraft was never compromised," the airport said in a statement.
Greater Manchester Police said no crime had been committed.