11-Year-Old Stowaway Flies Halfway Around World
FRANKFURT, West Germany (AP) _ Nuron Oruc, 11, joined the passenger line hoping to see the world and got a free round trip to Australia by tagging along with a woman who befriended her, a Lufthansa airline spokesman said Tuesday.
Nuron slipped onto a jumbo jet Saturday that flew from Frankfurt to Melbourne and was returned Tuesday, Stefan Hilscher said. Her father is one of West Germany’s Turkish ″guest workers″ and the family lives in Hanau, 20 miles east of Frankfurt.
″She somehow went unnoticed through three separate pre-flight checkpoints by mingling with the crowd,″ Hilscher said in a telephone interview. ″She met a Turkish-speaking woman at the airport, and this woman was flying to Melbourne.″
Lufthansa will pay for the trip because ″she slipped through our own checkpoint,″ he said, and the airline will not attempt to have her punished. He said an economy-class round trip to Australia costs 7,000 marks ($4,117).
Hilscher said the Turkish woman, whose name he would not reveal, had a ticket and visa to travel to Australia.
″They walked through the security check without any problem and then the girl must have gone unnoticed through passport control,″ Hilscher said. At the last point, where passengers are checked off by airline employees, ″the girl mingled with the large crowd of passengers to slip onto the flight,″ he said.
The Lufthansa spokesman said 345 passengers were booked on the 19-hour flight to Melbourne via Dubai in the Persian Gulf and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
″When she got onto the airplane, she just sat down in the seat next to the Turkish-speaking woman and the person for whom the seat was reserved simply took another unoccupied seat,″ Hilscher told The Associated Press.
He said Australian immigration officials found Nuron out when they tried to examine her documents and discovered she was not carrying a passport or visa.
Hilscher said there was no evidence to confirm a report Tuesday in the mass-circulation newspaper Bild that the girl sneaked onto the flight in hopes of joining her father in Turkey, where he was said to be attending his sister’s funeral.
″From our interpretation of what she said, she was looking for adventure,″ he said.
Lufthansa officials and police questioned the girl after her return to Frankfurt at 6:55 a.m. Tuesday, Hilscher said.
Police in Hanau, where the Orucs live, said she was released to her family. ″She’s got a lot of pluck,″ said an officer, who confirmed the release by telephone, but who spoke on condition that his name not be used.