Teen Stowaway In Nigeria Flies In Wheel Well Even Though Paying Passenger Complained

A teen stowaway on a Nigerian commercial air flight has raised questions about air travel security in the troubled west African nation. On Saturday, an Arik Airline flight departing Benin for Lagos carried an extra passenger — a boy described as around 13 or 14 who had hidden himself in the wheel well of the commercial aircraft.

That’s more than enough to make you wonder how secure the Nigerian airports really are.

And an in-depth report on the incident in the Nigerian Tribune is even more eye-popping.

According to NT, a passenger on the airplane noticed the boy climbing under the plane at Benin. That passenger informed the crew.

And the crew asked the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to check the plane again.

Did FAAN really do the check? Whether they did or whether they didn’t, they certainly didn’t detect the teen stowaway in the Nigerian carrier.

Eventually, the plane was cleared to leave. But when it arrived at Lagos, a boy jumped out of the wheel well.

Fortunately, this teen was still alive. But there have been several cases in the past where the stowaway was either found dead in the wheel well or simply fell from the plane at a height great enough to kill him.

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FAAN blasted Arik Air, saying that they were trying to cast blame on airport security for the airline’s own carelessness.

And Arik Air was open about the fact that they were pretty upset with FAAN. “We are worried by the incessant security lapses at our airports,” Arik managing director Chris Ndulue told the Associated Press.

An AP follow-up said that the unnamed boy was captured by Arik Air personnel at Lagos. The teen probably survived because the flight was so short that the plane didn’t rise above 25,000 feet.

Nigeria has only recently been granted the safety status that allows its domestic carriers to fly directly to the United States. However, security lapses like entire teen stowaways in a Nigerian plane’s wheel well could put that status back into question.

[Arik Airline jet photo by Biggerben via Wikimedia]