A 9-year-old Minnesota runaway somehow managed to sneak past airport security and board a plane to Las Vegas last week, and security administrators are still trying to figure out how he did it without a ticket.
The Transportation Security Administration said the boy went through security with all other passengers — apparently without a ticket — and took a seat on a Delta flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Las Vegas.
"He had to pass three levels of security," Terry Trippler, an air travel expert with ThePlaneRules.com, told CNN affiliate KARE11.com
. "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 [in airport security]."
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Crewmembers eventually became suspicious of the child and alerted authorities on the ground in Nevada. Child Protective Services intercepted the 9-year-old when the plane landed, CNN reported.
"Obviously, the fact that the child's actions weren't detected until he was in flight is concerning," Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, told CNN. "I don't know of another instance in my 13 years at the airport in which anything similar has happened."
According to Delta's website, children between the ages of 5 and 14 may travel alone
as part of the unaccompanied minor program. In those instances, someone from Delta pays special attention to the children, walks them on board, shows them their seats, and even introduces them to the cockpit crew, time permitting.
What's perhaps more alarming than the child sneaking onto the plane was that he was reportedly at the airport the day before.
KARE11.com reported that the 9-year-old was spotted at the airport taking pieces of luggage from the carousel, dumping them at the airport's eatery, and then asking a server to watch the bags "while he went to the restroom."
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