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One of the big travel stories that came out this morning is about a 9-year-old Minnesota boy who got himself to Minneapolis-St. Paul airport on Thursday, through security, onto a Delta flight and all the way to Las Vegas…without a ticket!
He was only caught mid-flight when crew members of Delta flight 1651 realized they didn’t have an unaccompanied minor on their manifest and questioned him about it. That must have been one awkward call to put into his parents when they landed in Vegas.
I don’t know whether to laugh of be frustrated with the TSA and the airline for letting it happen. It’s like this kid pulled a reverse Home Alone, got sick of his family and just decided to hit the road for Vegas. What’s even funnier to me is that he didn’t choose to go to Disneyland or Universal Studios or a child-friendly place like that. He picked Vegas – this kid is going to be a handful!
According to security video from the airport, the boy in question was also at the airport on Wednesday and took someone else’s piece of luggage from a carousel at MSP and also ate at an airport restaurant without paying – he dined and dashed by claiming he had to use the restroom and never returned to pay the bill.
The real question, though, is how did this happen? Almost as soon as it was reported, Delta and the TSA started sniping at each other about whose responsibility it was. Delta blamed the TSA for not doing its job screening people at security – unsurprising given the TSA’s consistently negative ratings – and the TSA in turn said that its staff numbers were lower because of the government shutdown even though that excuse is pretty ridiculous considering TSA screeners weren’t furloughed since they are considered essential front line employees. Heaven forbid someone actually dangerous took that seriously and decided to try to take advantage of TSA weak points.
Delta also has a lot to answer for – how did someone, even if it was a child, get onto a flight without a ticket? I reached out to Delta for a comment and received the following response from an airline spokesperson:
“Delta continues to work with authorities and look into the circumstances involving an un-ticketed minor boarding an aircraft in Minneapolis-St. Paul. We commend the flight crew of flight 1651, whose vigilance and awareness of the cabin led them to proactively alert authorities to the situation prior to the aircraft landing in Las Vegas. Safety and security are always Delta’s highest priorities and we are reviewing our policies and procedures to make sure something like this does not happen again.”
Well, at least the crew figured it out before the plane landed, but that still doesn’t explain how the boy was able to board in the first place. My other question is, do you think they’ll retroactively credit him with the mileage for the flight? Just kidding!
All in all, this is a huge mess, and I think both the TSA and Delta have a lot to answer for, as do the boy’s parents. Meanwhile, the TSA might want to hire him as a consultant to test its various checkpoints around the country since he seems to be an expert and sneaking through!