An FBI agent says a 16-year-old US boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii has no memory of the trip and is lucky to be alive.
The teen survived the trip halfway across the Pacific Ocean unharmed despite frigid temperatures at 38,000 feet (11,500 metres) and a lack of oxygen.
FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu said on Sunday night the boy was questioned after being discovered on the tarmac at the Maui airport with no identification.
“Kid’s lucky to be alive,” Simon said.
Simon said security footage from the San Jose airport verified that the boy hopped a fence to get to Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 on Sunday morning.
The teen had run away from his family after an argument, Simon said. When the flight landed in Maui, the boy hopped down from the wheel well and started wandering around the airport grounds, he said.
“He was unconscious for the lion’s share of the flight,” Simon said. The flight lasted about 5 1/2 hours.
Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle said airline personnel noticed the boy on the ramp after the flight arrived and immediately notified airport security.
“Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived,” Croyle said.
Simon said the boy was medically screened and found to be unharmed.
“Doesn’t even remember the flight,” Simon said. “It’s amazing he survived that.”
The boy will not be charged and was referred to child protective services, Simon said.
In August, a 13- or 14-year-old boy in Nigeria survived a 35-minute trip in the wheel well of a domestic flight after stowing away. Authorities credited the flight’s short duration.
Others stowing away in wheel wells have died, including a 16-year-old killed after stowing away aboard a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Boston in 2010 and a man who fell on to a suburban London street from a flight from Angola in 2012.