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Culture How did 9-year-old stowaway do it?

How did 9-year-old stowaway do it?

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

 

CNN Staff

(CNN) — Delta Air Lines is reviewing surveillance video from an incident last week in which a 9-year-old boy boarded a flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas, apparently alone and without a ticket, a spokeswoman for the airline said Monday.

While spokeswoman Leslie Scott applauded the crew of Flight 1651 for their “vigilance” after they alerted authorities to the boy, she sought to reassure travelers that the airline is going through the video as it reviews “our policies and procedures to make sure something like this does not happen again.”

As of Monday, the boy was still in Las Vegas, where his status will be discussed in court Tuesday, a spokesman for Minnesota’s Hennepin County said.

Officials in Hennepin County are waiting until “things are resolved out there” before proceeding with the case, Chuck Laszewski said.

The child’s parents are said to be cooperating fully, CNN affiliate KARE reported.

The boy went through security with other passengers, the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement Sunday, but officials are still trying to figure out how he did it — and how he then got on the flight Thursday.

Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, said the crew “became suspicious of the child’s circumstances” during the flight. Crew members got in touch with authorities in Las Vegas and turned the boy over to Child Protective Services, Hogan said in a statement.

A longtime flight attendant told KARE that children who are traveling alone normally get special attention.

“It’s a big responsibility for the airline as well as the flight attendant,” Gregg Proteaux, a longtime flight attendant, told KARE. “You’re responsible for them. How do you let 110 people on board when you only have 109 boarding passes?”

The boy spent a good amount of time at the airport before boarding the plane, KARE reported.

He was there the day before, the station reported, citing airport officials. He passed his time by taking luggage from a carousel, bringing it to an airport restaurant.

CNN affiliate WCCO reported he ordered chicken fingers and a soda, then left without paying, asking a server to watch the bag while he went to the restroom.

The following morning the child took a light-rail train to the airport, cleared security and made it to Las Vegas nearly without detection.

A flight security expert said the incident highlights the gaps in security, especially when it comes to children.

“That 9-year-old child does not need identification,” Terry Trippler of ThePlaneRules.com said, pointing to the TSA’s policy that only adults age 18 and over are required to have a state-issued or U.S. federal photo ID.

The incident is a first for the Minneapolis airport, according to Hogan. Over the years other airports have had similar incidents.

In 2007, another 9-year-old managed to fly from Seattle to Phoenix to San Antonio before being found out. However, he had a boarding pass. His mother told CNN her son gave ticketing agents a fake name.

Last year an 11-year-old boy in Manchester, England, managed to slip away from his mother during a shopping trip. He made it all the way to Rome without a boarding pass or a passport. But any Colosseum dreams were dashed. He never left the airport in Rome and was returned to his parents the same day.

CNN’s Bill Kirkos contributed to this report.


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