Passenger without a passport or plane ticket was able to fly from Heathrow to New York by ‘tailgating’ another traveller… and he is STILL on the run

A British passenger without a passport or plane ticket managed to fly from Heathrow to New York by ‘tailgating’ another traveler in a ‘huge embarrassment’ for UK security, it emerged last night.

Craig Sturt, 46, is accused of following another passenger through security and passport checkpoints at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and enjoying free food and drinks on a British Airways plane before landing in the US.

He is said to have been detained there by armed officials, who found he had no documentation and was sent back to the UK on a chartered flight.

Mr Sturt was then hand delivered to Met Police officers at 8:00 p.m Christmas Day, when he was arrested before being taken to a hospital in Reading.

However, he reportedly escaped from hospital and has not been seen since, having become the subject of a missing person’s appeal.

Craig Sturt (46) (pictured) was the subject of an 'urgent missing person appeal' when he followed another passenger through security and passport checkpoints on 23 December 2023

Craig Sturt (46) (pictured) was the subject of an ‘urgent missing person appeal’ when he followed another passenger through security and passport checkpoints on 23 December 2023

The incident is said to have prompted the Home Secretary to demand answers about the ‘humiliating fiasco’, The sun reported.

Such an event was thought to be impossible due to increased security and technological advances since 9/11.

After he escaped from hospital, a warrant was issued for Mr Sturt’s arrest on January 22, and Thames Valley Police released a photograph of him on January 30.

The force said at the time: ‘Urgent missing person appeal. Can you please help us find Craig? The 46-year-old is 6ft, slim, with short dark brown hair.

‘When he was last seen he was wearing a gray jacket, a top, black jogging bottoms and white trainers.

‘Craig was last seen in Reading but is from Slough and also has links to Heathrow and Tottenham Court Road in London. If you see Craig, please do not approach him, call 999 instead.’

He was charged with obtaining services by deception; be unlawfully airside; boarding an airplane without permission.

He was adjourned to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court – but the unemployed 46-year-old has still not been found by police.

He was seen taking £200 in cash from a machine on Tottenham Court Road in London.

Mr Sturt boarded a British Airways flight to New York from Heathrow's Terminal 5.  Pictured: A BA plane takes off from Heathrow Terminal 5 (File image)

Mr Sturt boarded a British Airways flight to New York from Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Pictured: A BA plane takes off from Heathrow Terminal 5 (File image)

A source told The Sun: ‘Heads will roll. It’s mind boggling that this can happen. It doesn’t like to think about what could have happened if a terrorist had successfully boarded a flight undetected.

‘It is a great embarrassment. Officials in the US are outraged and are demanding to know how this could have happened.’

A Heathrow spokesman said: ‘All people who take to the skies are subject to security checks, including the individual involved in this case. We are supporting the authorities with their ongoing investigation.’

The Met Police said: ‘On 24 December 2023 police were made aware of an alleged breach of security at Heathrow Airport and a man was subsequently arrested and later charged with breaches of the Aviation Security and Fraud Act .

“We continue to work with all our partners to review and improve the already robust security measures in place, which are constantly reviewed by the wider security partnership.”

A New Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘Police were made aware of an alleged breach of security at Heathrow Airport on 24 December 2023 and a man was subsequently arrested and later charged with breaches of the Fraud and Aviation Security.

“We continue to work with all our partners to review and improve the already robust security measures in place, which are constantly reviewed by the wider security partnership.”

British Airways said: ‘We are assisting the authorities with their investigation.’

MailOnline has contacted BA and the Metropolitan Police for comment.

The Home Office and the Department for Transport both declined to comment.