A boy sneaks on a plane last Thursday at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, showing vulnerabilities in our nation’s security checkpoints. The 9-year-old boy managed to bamboozle multiple levels of airport security, sneak onto a Delta flight and hitch a free ride to Las Vegas, reports USA Today on Oct. 7.
The unidentified Minnesota boy reportedly ran away from home and was somehow able to hop onto a Delta flight, passing TSA gate agents, screeners and flight attendants without being caught and without displaying a boarding pass. The boy even took a train to the airport, stole some luggage and sat down to order a meal – all without one single person questioning the whereabouts of his parents.
Flight attendants finally got suspicious when the boy did not have a valid seat assignment. But by that time, the flight was already in the air, and officials did not question the boy until the plane touched down 1,700 miles away in Nevada.
The real question is – How could this little boy circumvent multiple layers of security?
Pat Hogan, spokesperson for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP), confirmed the incident, and quickly ruled out any lapse in internal airport security, pinning the blame on the government’s TSA security force and Delta Airlines employees.
“At this point, this is a Delta and TSA issue,” Hogan said, adding, “This is a rare incident.”
While MSP International is blaming TSA, TSA is blaming the government shutdown, saying that with low staffing, agents are seeing an increase in their workload. Over 30 million individuals fly out of MSP every year. Let’s hope most of them have valid tickets.
TSA did release a statement, saying “The child was screened along with all other passengers, to ensure that he was not a threat to the aircraft.”
Fantastic – So TSA officials checked the boy for a sneaker bomb, but never bothered to look for any identification, boarding pass, ticket, or even a mom or dad.
Delta responded as well, saying they are “cooperating with the investigation.” The airline spells out its policy about children flying solo on its website, and it’s clear that the policy was ignored.
“Children between the ages of 5 and 14 may travel alone as part of the unaccompanied minor program. Someone from Delta pays special attention to the children, walks them on board, shows them their seats and even introduces them to the cockpit crew, time permitting.” --Delta's Unaccompanied Minor Program
Hogan says this kind of incident is rare, and sought to reassure travelers.
“Obviously, the fact that the child's actions weren't detected until he was in flight is concerning,” Hogan said. “Still, 33 million people travel through the Minneapolis airport every year. I don't know of another instance in my 13 years at the airport in which anything similar has happened.”
The boy was returned safely to his parents.