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Investigators Ask How Boy Snuck onto MSP Plane

Updated: 10/08/2013 8:23 AM
Created: 10/06/2013 9:13 AM KSTP.com
By: Tim Sherno

Authorities are investigating how a 9-year-old boarded a plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The Minneapolis boy remained in child protective custody Sunday, after sneaking onto a plane and flying from Minneapolis to Las Vegas, according to ABC affiliate KTNV.

It remained unclear Monday where the boy was.

The boy, who reportedly ran away from home, went through security and boarded a plane to Las Vegas, without a ticket, according to an airport spokesman.
    
Security officials screened the Minneapolis boy at the airport shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday after he arrived via light rail, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said. The boy then boarded a Delta flight that left for Las Vegas at 11:15 a.m.
    
The flight was not full, Hogan said, and the flight crew became suspicious midflight because the boy was not on their list of unattended minors. The crew contacted Las Vegas police, who met them upon landing and transferred the boy to child protection services, Hogan said.
    
"It's hard to piece anything together from his stories why he got on the flight and went to Las Vegas," Hogan said.
    
Minneapolis police Sgt. Bill Palmer said officers talked to the family after Las Vegas police contacted them. A family member told police the boy ran away and was last seen earlier Thursday.
    
The boy had been at the airport on Wednesday as well, Hogan said. Video shows him grabbing a bag from the carousel and ordering lunch at a restaurant outside of the security checkpoints.
    
He ate and then told the server he had to use the bathroom. He left the bag and never returned to pay, Hogan said. Airport officials returned the bag to its owner.
    
Delta and the Transportation Security Administration said in separate statements that they were investigating.

Private security consultant Michael Rozin says the incident was not a breach in security because according to the TSA, the boy went through security screening and posed no threat to the plane or passengers, but Rozin says the incident was a breach in access which is a potential danger. According to Rozin, there are more security questions stemming from the incident that he believes should also be investigated.

The stowaway was also at the airport the day before he boarded the plane. On that day, the boy stole a suitcase from a baggage carrousel and went to a restaurant in the airport. Rozin says a 9-year-old boy walking alone in the airport with a large bag should have drawn the attention of airport security, "This is very suspicious, you have a young kid with unusual belongings, as we say, that's something that should be paid attention to, and acted on right away."

Hennepin County Child Protection Services also was looking into it, Palmer said. County spokeswoman Carolyn Marinan said Sunday she couldn't confirm or deny the agency's involvement because the case involves a juvenile and data privacy issues.
    
The boy was expected to return to the Twin Cities, but Hogan didn't know Sunday if that had happened yet.

The following is a statement from Leslie Scott, Delta spokewoman:

"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."

Click here to read about TSA's rules on screening children.

Click here for Delta's unaccompanied minor's policy.

The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.


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