Home Travel Boy, 9, Ran Away From Home, Sneaked Onto Plane, Flew Across Country

Boy, 9, Ran Away From Home, Sneaked Onto Plane, Flew Across Country

by SharonKurheg

When I was 5 or 6 years old, family lore says I announced I was running away from home. No one, least of all me (I don’t even remember the event) remembers why I decided to leave home and go out on my own at such a tender age. But I’m told I packed my favorite Holly Hobbie nightgown and my beloved Raggedy Ann doll into a shopping bag, added a PBJ sandwich (with the crusts cut off) that my mother helpfully made for me, told my parents not to worry, and left.

It was during a time when you could still let kids outside by themselves, so my mom (I dunno, apparently wanting to encourage my independence?) just said, “OK, bye. Love you,” and then looked out the window to see what direction I would go so my dad could follow me.

Ours was a quiet block in Canarsie, Brooklyn and, truth be told, my mom knew that, despite “running away from home,” I still wouldn’t cross the street without supervision (“MOM! Cross me!”). So I certainly wouldn’t get very far. As it turned out, I never even left the actual building. Our landlord, who lived directly below us in the 2-family house, called my parents less than 5 minutes later to let my mom know I rang their doorbell and asked if I could stay in their house for a while.

So much for my independence in the big, bad world.

Things have changed a lot in the past several decades. Kids are smarter. And bolder. Here’s what a kid running away from home does nowadays…

On the morning of February 26th, a 9-year-old boy from Manaus, Brazil was reported missing from his home. By the end of the day, his mother discovered that her son, Emanuel, had run away from home and ended up in the city of Guarulhos, in São Paulo. That’s about 1,675 miles from home, on the other side of the country. It’s typically a nearly 4-hour flight if you go non-stop.

The child boarded alone, without airfare, documents or bags, onto a LATAM Airlines flight that left Manaus Airport and headed to São Paulo.

The airline and the Manaus airport management company are investigating how the child managed to travel under such circumstances. The local police have requested images from security cameras as part of their investigation.

In a statement, the police said that the child acted independently, without the help of adults. Before leaving, he (Emmanuel) said he did research on the internet about, “how to get on a plane unnoticed.”

There’s apparently no history of family violence or any pressing reason why Emanuel left home. He said he just wanted to live in São Paulo, with other family members.

The boy’s mother, Daniele, said she realized that the child wasn’t home in the early hours of Feb. 26th.

She said: “I woke up at 5:30am, went to his room, and saw that he was sleeping normally.

“Then I fiddled with my mobile phone a little and got up again, at 7:30am. That’s when I realized that he was no longer in his bedroom and I started to panic.”

She immediately filed a report at the police station, and begin publicizing her son’s image on social media.

Around 10pm that night, Daniele received a call from a LATAM employee, informing her that the boy was Guarulhos Airport (GRU), in São Paulo. The crew apparently noticed the unaccompanied minor It was while the flight was in the air. They, in turn, notified Brazil’s Federal Police and Guardianship Council (Note from Sharon: It seems like Guardianship Council is Brazil’s version of child protective services).

“As soon as they told me he was there [at Guarulhos Airport], I told the delegate from the local police. The police asked if I could go get him, but I said I couldn’t. So I asked LATAM to return with my son,” Daniele said.

After discussions and negotiations between the Guardianship Council and LATAM, Emmanuel was sheltered overnight under the care of the Guardianship Council and was returned to Manaus on the morning of February 27th.

LATAM Airlines said in a statement: “A minor was identified on flight LA3168 (Manaus-São Paulo/Guarulhos), on Saturday afternoon (26/2), which disembarked at 9.09pm.

“In Guarulhos, the company called the Federal Police and the Guardianship Council, which sent him to a shelter to await the necessary procedures for his return to Manaus.

“The minor re-embarked on flight LA3008 (São Paulo/Guarulhos-Manaus) this Sunday (27/2), which disembarked at 11.45 am, being welcomed by local authorities.

“LATAM Airlines Brasil is investigating what happened.”

Emmanuel’s comment about the whole thing? “Foi top!” Translation: “It was top!” (I’m so glad he had such a good time…[/sarcasm])

His mother, obviously, was not so excited about the whole ordeal. She intends to sue the Manaus Airport administrator, as well as the airline.

This isn’t the first time someone has made it onto a plane without any sort of documentation. In 2019 a woman made it past security and onto a plane with no ticket. And in 2020, a 15-year-old managed the same feat, holding only a drink coupon.

Maybe they looked up, “How to get on a plane unnoticed,” too.

H/T: JCNet

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1 comment

derek March 8, 2022 - 8:38 pm

Around 2007, I got off a Delta flight undetected. There was a segment that I didn’t want to use (SLC-LAX) because I wanted to xxx-SLC-SFO and SFO-LAX. When connecting at SLC, I started to walk in the jetway, “changed my mind” about flying, and got off the jetway without the gate agent noticing.

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