Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski
Don't miss the updates to this story at bottom of post.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — So just how did a 9-year-old runaway manage to get past security, board a plane at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — without a ticket — and fly to Las Vegas?
No one's quite sure yet.
Security screened the Minneapolis boy at the airport shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday, says Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan, adding that the boy then boarded a Delta flight that left for Las Vegas at 11:15 a.m.
Hogan says the flight crew became suspicious midflight because he wasn't on the list of unattended minors, KCCO-TV reports, so they contacted Las Vegas police, who met the crew upon landing and transferred the boy to child protection services.
"He had to pass three levels of security," Terry Trippler, an air travel expert with ThePlaneRules.com, tells KARE-TV. "You have the TSA, the gate agents, and the flight crew and a child comes through without even a seat assignment."
"While we are safer in the air, this proves there are still gaping holes," Trippler adds.
KARE reports that the boy also spent Wednesday at the airport, took luggage off a carousel, ordered food at a pre-security restaurant, asked the server to watch his luggage while he went to the restroom, but never returned.
Hogan says the boy is expected to return to the Twin Cities.
Delta and the Transportation Security Administration released statements saying they were investigating.
UPDATE: The TSA notes staffing is low due to furloughs related to the federal government shutdown, says KCCO-TV, but frontline 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, adding that the TSA has reviewed video of the boy at the checkpoint and are “investigating whether we should reconfigure barriers to prevent another incident like this one.”
When Minneapolis Police went to the runaway boy's residence, parents told officers they “hadn’t seen much of him today,” KCCO reports. A family member told police the boy ran away and was last seen earlier Thursday.
Here's a report from KARE-TV: