Reporting Holly Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A 9-year-old Minneapolis boy was able to get through security and onto a plane at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport without a ticket, an airport spokesman said Sunday.
Security officials screened the boy at airport shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said. The boy then boarded Delta Flight 1651, which left for Las Vegas at 11:15 a.m.
The flight was not full, Hogan said, and the flight crew became suspicious mid-flight because the boy was not on their list of unattended minors. The crew contacted Las Vegas police, who met them upon landing and transferred the boy to child protection services, Hogan said.
Minneapolis Police went to his residence. Parents told officers they “hadn’t seen much of him today.”
WCCO contacted the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) Sunday morning, during which a spokesperson said staffing is currently low due to the number of employees furloughed in the wake of the federal government shutdown.
In an email sent Sunday afternoon, the spokesperson clarified that front-line officers are working during the furlough.
“The child was screened along with all other passengers to ensure that he was not a threat to the aircraft,” said the TSA spokesperson.
They added that video of the boy at the checkpoint has been reviewed, and they are “investigating whether we should reconfigure barriers to prevent another incident like this one.”
Video also shows the boy at the airport Wednesday, Hogan said. He grabbed a bag from the carousel and ordered lunch at a restaurant outside of the security checkpoints, Hogan said. He ate and then told the server he had to use the bathroom, left the bag and never returned to pay.
The owner of the bag was identified, and the bag was returned to him, Hogan said. Nothing was stolen.
Jon Austin is a communication specialist and former spokesperson for Northwest Airlines. He says situations like this are not unheard of, and they usually involve minors.
“They attach themselves to a group and…to an outsider, instead of a family of three kids, it’s a family of four kids,” Austin said.
He points out the TSA security checkpoints aren’t in place to stop unauthorized people from going through; they are there to stop dangerous objects.
Delta and the TSA released statements saying they were investigating. The Hennepin County Child Protection Services was also investigating, Palmer said.
County spokeswoman Carolyn Marinan said Sunday she couldn’t confirm or deny their involvement because the case involves a juvenile and data privacy issues.
The boy was expected to return to the Twin Cities, but Hogan didn’t know Sunday if that had happened yet. His name was not being released.
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