Guatemala survives flight to Miami hidden in plane’s landing gear


A stowaway passenger hidden in the landing gear compartment of an American Airlines jet survived a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Guatemala City, the country’s capital, to Miami, in the United States, on Saturday (27).

After landing, the man was handed over to US immigration officials and taken to a hospital for evaluation.

The Department of Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, said in a statement that Miami International Airport officials arrested a 26-year-old man who tried to evade detection in the aircraft’s landing gear compartment.

The statement also draws attention to the risk of falling and the extreme cold at high altitudes, and warns that, when trying to hide in the tight spaces of aircraft, people face serious dangers.

In a video, posted by an Instagram profile, it is possible to see the man on the airport runway after landing. He looks dazed but unharmed, sitting on the runway beside the plane, wearing jeans, a T-shirt, jacket and boots.

In a statement, American Airlines said its flight 1182 from Guatemala City to Miami arrived shortly after 10 am local time and “was taken in by police due to a security problem.” The company did not give further details and said it is helping with the investigation.

Immigration lawyer Angel Leal, in an interview with television network WTVJ, said that the Guatemalan would be detained by the CBP pending a deportation order.

The US Department of Aviation Administration did not comment on the incident. According to figures from the entity, since 1947, 129 people have tried to hide in landing gear or on aircraft wheels. Of these, only 29 survived the trip.​

Guatemala was responsible for a large part of the estimated 1.7 million migrants apprehended or expelled by US border agents last year, many of them Central Americans fleeing violent gangs and oppressed by poverty.


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