Child Sneaks into Airplane without Ticket

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. stature / ˈstætʃ ər / (n) – height

    Because of his tall stature, his legs could not fit comfortably between airplane seats.

  2. pass (someone/something) off as (someone/something) / pæs ɔf æz / (idiom) – to disguise someone/something as another person or object

    The syndicate created fake tickets and tried to pass them off as real ones.

  3. escapade / ˈɛs kəˌpeɪd / (n) – an exciting but dangerous experience

    As a kid, I liked having escapades in my grandfather’s farm.

  4. hand (someone/something) over / hænd ˈoʊ vər / (idiom) – to pass the control or ownership of someone or something to another person

    They handed their documents over to the embassy for processing.

  5. stowaway / ˈstoʊ əˌweɪ / (n) – a person who hides in a vehicle in order to travel without paying

    The airline authorities searched the plane for stowaways.


Read the text below.

A seven-year-old girl managed to board an airplane headed from Switzerland to France without a ticket.

According to the girl’s father, the girl ran away from her parents and went to a nearby train station. There, she rode a train to the Geneva Airport. The girl was able to sneak into a plane because showing one’s passport is not mandatory in the area. She also took advantage of her small stature to enter the departure gate unnoticed.

Initially, she tried to board the plane by following a crew member in, but she was turned back. On her second attempt, she managed to pass herself off as the child of some adults boarding the plane.

The girl’s escapade had been caught on security cameras, so the police were able to track her. An airline crew member also spotted the girl while the plane was still grounded. The crew member handed the girl over to the police, and she was later reunited with her parents.

After the incident, a Geneva Airport spokesperson said that the airport will tighten its security and boarding procedures.

According to the US Federal Aviation Administration, there have been more than a hundred cases of stowaways involving adults and teenagers worldwide since 1947. In another incident, a 15-year-old boy managed to stow away from California to Hawaii in 2014. For more than five hours, he hid inside the plane’s wheel well, which is where the wheels are kept while a plane is in flight. He survived the extremely cold temperature and the thin oxygen during the flight. When the boy was found, he was not charged a criminal case but was instead hospitalized for the health damages he acquired.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, who holds the greatest responsibility for the stowaway girl: the train station, the airport, or her parents? Why?
• Should authorities file a criminal charge against the girl’s parents? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What are some reasons why children run away from their parents? Discuss.
• If you were a child and you decided to run away, where would you go? Why?