Passengers on a transatlantic flight were delayed for several hours after a 12-year-old boy was discovered on board without a ticket, after he managed to evade airport security.

It may have been a dare or a mistake, but police at Heathrow Airport are trying to get to the bottom of how the 12-year-old evaded found himself on the British Airways flight BA269 bound for Los Angeles on Sunday night.

Before take-off, cabin crew spotted the boy, who was not traveling with adults, and asked him for his boarding pass so they could direct him to his seat.

Soon after, police and sniffer dogs arrived on the plane and passengers were asked to disembark to go through another security check.

Pakistani airport ground staff gather around the British Airways aircraft after landing at the Islamabad International Airport in this illustrative image. Police are investigating how a 12-year-old boy slipped past Heathrow Airport security and boarded a BA flight without a ticket.

Passenger Rachel Richardson said there was a delay of several hours before the plane eventually took off.

“So I survived my six hour wait at Heathrow but am now delayed on the tarmac because a young boy made his way onto our plane – BA269 – without a ticket.

“Big security breach. So much fun for everyone on board. We were meant to take off at 4.15pm. It’s nearly 6pm,” she tweeted.

She later wrote: “Current situation: Off the plane. Tonnes of police with sniffer dogs here. We are in a queue. Unclear what for.”

The Telegraph reported one possibility was that he was a transit passenger who arrived at London’s biggest airport with a ticket and had been challenged to see how far he could get.

Police said that the boy had been identified by cabin crew during pre-flight checks and was not a British national.

“As a security precaution, passengers de-planed following a discussion between police and the captain. The child is believed to have arrived at Heathrow as a transit passenger,” the Evening Standard reported.

In a statement, British Airways said security was a top priority.

“We have apologized to our customers for the delay to their flight after an issue during boarding.

“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and everyone who had boarded the aircraft had been subject to security checks.

“We conducted additional precautionary screening as soon as this issue came to light and we are assisting the police with their inquiries,” the statement said.

The incident has raised questions about security at the airport. In a statement, Heathrow said it was working with police and the airline.

“The individual did not represent a security risk and, purely as a precaution, the aircraft in question was re-screened and has since departed.”

“We apologize for the disruption and will continue working closely with the authorities and our airline partners to keep the airport safe,” the statement from Heathrow Airport said.

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