1The 9-year-old boy who boarded a plane to Vegas without a ticket
His mother thought he was playing at a friend's house. In fact, the nine-year-old boy in question had taken a to the Minneapolis airport, slipped past the check-in counter, and boarded a flight to Las Vegas. He told the increasingly suspicious flight crew that his parents were seated at the back of the plane. A quick check of the roster revealed that he should never have boarded in the first place. When he landed, he was taken into custody by Child Protective Services. The case, which happened in 2013, left everybody astonished. One official who had worked for the airport for 13 years told NBC News, “I've never seen a case like this before.”
2The teen who hitched a ride to Hawaii in the jet's landing gear
15-year-old runaway Yahya Abdi miraculously survived a five-hour flight in the freezing wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet as it traveled from California to Hawaii.
The stowaway snuck into the Mineta International Airport in San Jose by jumping a fence. He holed up in the rear left wheel well of the Boeing 767 in an attempt to reunite with his mother. (He had recently learned she was alive after his father told him she was dead.) Abdi quickly lost consciousness as the plane ascended to 38,000 feet and temperatures in the compartment dipped to minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
An hour after the aircraft landed, the boy regained consciousness and emerged on the tarmac. A shocked ground crew spotted him. Abdi was questioned by the FBI (his story checked out) and turned over to local child protection officials where he was given a medical exam, and, subsequently, a clean bill of health.
3The 11-year-old boy who flew from Manchester to Italy without a ticket
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. He went to the Manchester Airport, snuck past passport control and boarding pass checks, went through a metal detector and was on a plane halfway to Rome before anyone realized there was anything unusual going on.
Liam Corcoran had apparently run away from his mother while she was shopping at the Wythenshawe Civic Center and had been reported missing. He was eventually noticed while the flight was in the air and sent back home when the plane returned to England.
4The 5-year-old who was accidently sent to Boston on the wrong flight
In 2016, a horrified mother was presented with the wrong child at JFK airport—after bungling airline staff put her five-year-old son on a flight to Boston.
Maribel Martinez, 38, was waiting in New York for her son, Andy, to return home from a family visit in the Dominican Republic. But Andy ended up 214 miles away after another boy was mistakenly put on the plane to New York.
His terrified mother was beside herself with worry when JetBlue staff met her with the wrong boy, to which she replied: "this is not my child!" The other child had been carrying Andy's passport and was mistakenly put on the flight to New York, while Andy ended up in Boston, despite the fact Martinez had paid an extra $100 fee for a JetBlue representative to escort him onto the plane.
After a frantic three hours of trying to locate Andy, he was finally found and put on the phone to his mother. Both children were then returned to their correct destinations.
5The star-crossed German lovers—aged six and five—who tried to elope to Africa
It is a dream that has been shared by lovers across the centuries—to elope to exotic lands. But few would have been as bold and spontaneous as six-year-old Mika and his five-year-old sweetheart Anna-Bell who, after mulling over their options in secret, packed their suitcases on New Year's Eve and set off from the German city of Hanover to tie the knot under the heat of the African sun.
The children left their homes at dawn while their unwitting parents were apparently sleeping, and took along Mika's seven-year-old sister, Anna-Lena, as a witness to the wedding.
Donning sunglasses, swimming armbands, and dragging a pink blow-up lilo and suitcases on wheels packed with summer clothes, cuddly toys, and a few provisions, they walked a kilometer up the road and boarded a tram to the Hanover train station. They got as far as an express train to the airport before a suspicious station guard alerted police.
6The 9-year-old who stole a car and later boarded a plane
In 2007, Washington resident 9-year old Semaj Booker really, really wanted to see his grandfather in Texas. He stole a car (which he learned how to do from playing video games), and led police on a high-speed chase. They quickly caught up with him and brought him home.
The next morning, Semaj snuck out of his house and took a bus to the Seattle airport. He went to the Southwest ticket counter and gave a fake name. According to this mother, he told the ticket agent his last name is "Williams." The agent looked at her computer and said, "Frank Williams?" Semaj answered, "Yep," and off he went with a boarding pass with the same name.
He got through security with no issues, because children don't need a photo ID. Semaj hopped on a plane that stopped briefly in Phoenix before heading to San Antonio. He tried to get on a third flight for Dallas to visit additional family members, but Southwest figured out something wasn't right and called airport police.
7The teenager who tried to go from the U.S. to England in a submarine
17-year old American Barbara McVay wanted to go to England in 1966. Her dad was stationed with the Air Force in the U.K, and, as she told The Sarasota Journal newspaper, "I like English boys." One problem: Barbara lived in Baltimore. So she did what any teen would do, and stowed away on a Britain-bound submarine that was visiting Baltimore. The 1,600-ton submarine (called the Walrus) had been at sea for four hours when Barbara left her hiding place, feeling groggy from carbon monoxide. Crew members say it's good she left when she did because she would have drowned when that compartment filled with water. The Walrus turned around and brought Barbara straight back home.
8The two Irish kids who ran away from home to NYC
Keith Byrne (10) and Noel Murray (13) from Darndale, a tough Dublin suburb, were sneaky enough to escape authorities in three countries back in 1985.
They jumped a commuter train headed to the port of Dún Laoghaire and sneaked onto a ferry bound for Holyhead in Wales. From there, they caught the train to London and connected with a subway train to Heathrow. Once there, they asked a random passenger where his plane was going, and he said, "New York." They told the ticket checker and security their parents were behind them and boarded the Air India plane. “The plane was only half full, so no one came near us,” Keith recalls.
Their journey came to an end when they landed at JFK and asked a cop the way “into town.” They were taken to a police station, where they immediately became celebrities—their exploits made the front page of the New York newspapers. Authorities later took no chances—they were put in a hotel suite with five security guards before being sent home.
9The Russian child who boarded a plane and flew 450 miles without a ticket or ID
Despite being on her own and never flying before, an 11-year-old girl managed to sneak onto a plane without a ticket or ID back in 2016.
The child mingled with a large airport crowd and made her way onto a Rossiya Airlines flight from Vnukovo, near Moscow to Pulkovo Airport, St Petersburg. She made the 450-mile journey completely alone and was discovered missing when her parents realized she had not come home from school. Airport staff failed to check her ID and assumed she belonged to a large family who was traveling on the plane. Flight attendants also neglected to notice the girl was traveling on her own without ID or a ticket.
The schoolgirl was reportedly curious to see St. Petersburg, but when she landed after the hour-long flight, she decided instead to stay in the arrivals hall. Her panicked parents called her, and she copped to where she was. Airport staff later tracked her down and returned her to her family.