An 11-year-old boy sneaked onto a plane without a passport or ticket and flew to Rome from Manchester Airport, it has emerged.
Liam Corcoran passed through security without being checked, before making his way on to the Jet2.com flight yesterday.
Police say the boy - who is understood to have an interest in planes - had run away from his mother while shopping at Manchester's Wythenshawe Civic Centre.
Several staff at Jet2.com have been suspended pending an investigation.
It is understood Liam made his own way to the airport after disappearing from his mother's side.
The Manchester Evening News reported that he then followed a family at Terminal 1. He was scanned by security staff, but his lack of documents went unnoticed.
The youngster passed through a gate where he was not required to show a passport or boarding pass.
He then made it on to Jet2.com flight LS791, destined for the Italian capital. He was not asked for a boarding pass stub by cabin crew.
An airport spokesman said that concerned passengers raised the alarm mid-flight after realising Liam was alone and the plane's captain informed the authorities.
He said the boy remained on board after landing at Rome Fiumicino Airport, and returned to Manchester on the same plane.
He was apparently met by his mother at around 9pm last night.
A Manchester Airport spokesman said: "This extremely serious matter is now being urgently investigated by officials from the airport and airline.
"It is clear that documentation has not been checked correctly at security and the boarding gate.
"The boy went through full security screening so the safety of passengers and the aircraft was never compromised.
"We are now making preparations to ensure that his return to the UK is handled sensitively to avoid any distress."