Minneapolis boy, 9, sneaks onto flight, makes it to Las Vegas

<i>This post has been updated, as indicated below.</i>

Unlikeliest Vegas trip ever.

A 9-year-old Minneapolis boy slipped through a wall of post-Sept. 11 airport security and onto a Delta Airlines flight to Las Vegas last week, officials said. He was alone and had no ticket.

The boy’s successful venture Thursday appeared to be his second attempt in two days to bluff his way into the airport.

A day earlier, on Wednesday, he had taken the light rail to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, stole a stranger’s bag off the baggage carousel, ordered a meal at a pre-security airport restaurant, and then ran away without paying after telling the wait staff he was going to the bathroom, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan told the Los Angeles Times.


The wait staff called airport police after noticing the unattended bag, which was then returned to its owner, Hogan said.

The next day, the boy got even bolder.

Arriving in the morning on the light rail again, the boy went to the security checkpoint -- which didn’t require photo IDs from children -- and passed through the screening process while pretending to be part of a family that was passing through at the same time, Hogan said.

“What they’d normally do is show a boarding pass for the child,” Hogan said of families passing through security.

Then, inside the gate area, the boy chatted up the airline boarding employee until the employee was distracted by another passenger, which is when the boy slipped onto the plane, Hogan said.

Flight attendants ultimately caught on to the boy’s ruse after realizing he wasn’t on a manifest of unattended minors and didn’t appear to be with an adult, Hogan said.

They notified police in Las Vegas, who took the boy into custody when the plane landed.

The Transportation Security Administration -- which has been partially affected by the federal government shutdown, but whose security agents are still working at the airports -- could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday, nor could a representative of Delta Airlines.

Spokespeople for both organizations have told other media outlets that the incident is under investigation.

[Updated, 2:45 p.m. PDT Oct. 6: “The child was screened along with all other passengers to ensure that he was not a threat to the aircraft,” the TSA said in a statement emailed to the Los Angeles Times, adding that officials were deciding whether to adjust security protocols to prevent similar incidents in the future.]

According to the Associated Press, the boy had apparently run away from his family and was expected to be returned to Minnesota.

Las Vegas police couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Sunday regarding the boy’s current status.


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