Las Vegas, aka Sin City, received an unusual guest last week: a 9-year-old boy. The boy managed to depart from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday morning, according to airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. He was both alone and without an actual plane ticket.
The boy made it through security and on to Delta Flight 1651 without the Transportation Security Administration suspecting anything. The crew of the flight “became suspicious of the child’s circumstances” once airborne. He told a flight attendant that his parents were in the back of the plane.
Once the crew realized that the boy was not on the roster of children travelling alone, they immediately contacted Las Vegas authorities. Delta turned the boy over to Child Protective Services and is working with the authorities to handle the matter.
The child was apparently running away from his home in Minneapolis. His mother was under the impression that he was at a friend’s house. Once she realized that he wasn’t, she made attempts to report him as missing. The boy wasn’t officially listed as a runaway until after he had managed to fly to a different state.
The day before he boarded the plane, he spent some time meandering around the airport. He even went so far as to take luggage from a carousel and bring it to an airport restaurant. Then, he abandoned the bag there but told the wait staff that he was “going to the restroom.”
The next day, the boy cleared security and flew to Las Vegas with almost no one taking notice. According to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokesman Bill Cassell, “He was able to get onto an airline where he didn’t have a ticket and made it five states across the U.S.”
Hogan explained that the airport itself “isn’t involved in any sort of passenger processing.” Approximately 33 million people travel through the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport annually. Hogan claims that in his 13 years there, he’s never seen a case like this one.
After the boy’s safety, the main concern is the gap in airport security. Since 9/11, airport security has been highly amplified. Hogan said that, “If it hadn’t been for alert airline employees on our end, he probably never would have been discovered.”