Video: 9-year-old boy outsmarts TSA, stows away on flight to Vegas

posted at 2:01 pm on October 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

“He’s got a lot of explaining to do to the authorities,” says CBS News transportation-safety expert Mark Roseneker, but Roseneker has it backwards. It’s the authorities and the airline that has a lot of explaining to do after a nine-year-old stowaway managed to scope out one of America’s busiest international airports, find a hole in its security, and fly to Las Vegas without a ticket or identifying himself:

The Los Angeles Times also covered it this morning:

A 9-year-old Minneapolis boy slipped through airport security and onto a Delta Air Lines flight to Las Vegas last week, officials said Sunday. He was alone and had no ticket or boarding pass.

The boy’s venture Thursday seemed to be his second attempt in two days to bluff his way through the airport.

A day earlier, he took the light rail to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, stole a stranger’s bag off a baggage carousel, ordered a meal at a pre-security airport restaurant and left without paying, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said.

The next day, the boy got bolder.

Arriving on the light rail again, he went to the security checkpoint — which doesn’t require photo IDs from children — and passed through the screening process while pretending to be part of a family, Hogan said.

Once at the gate, the boy chatted up the airline boarding employee until the worker was distracted by a passenger, at which point the boy slipped onto the plane, Hogan said.

For both my job and my own personal enjoyment, I fly several times a year, and always through Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.  I have never had any experience that would lead me to believe that security would let me through a checkpoint without showing identification, nor of boarding a plane without a pass. In a strange sense, I feel a little foolish that a nine-year-old could spot a security gap this easily that I had apparently missed.

However, no one’s paying me to secure airports, either.  The real question this raises is whether our security approach actually secures airports, or whether it is the “security theater” that its critics claim.  Having a 9-year-old defeat the system certainly makes it look more like the latter than the former.


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He will be stripped and flogged for his disobedience!

melle1228 on October 7, 2013 at 2:03 PM

I used to do that all the time when I was a kid.

Akzed on October 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Of course they are going to blame the Shut Down, that’s pretty obvious.

Johnnyreb on October 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM

How the heck did he get on the plane?

gophergirl on October 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM

This kid will lead the free world if we frame his exploits the same way the media vetted Obama.

patman77 on October 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM

I’m surprised it took this long to happen. When will they be publicly executing this 9 year old for his outrageous audacity?

NotCoach on October 7, 2013 at 2:05 PM

He was probably the only person on the light-rail line, so they should have know he was up to something right there…

Bruno Strozek on October 7, 2013 at 2:06 PM

“He’s got a lot of explaining to do to the authorities”

He could explain to them how to run a decent airport security system, for starters.

Ramadahl on October 7, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Enjoy your audit, kid.

rogerb on October 7, 2013 at 2:09 PM

I feel bed for the parents, having to keep up with their mastermind boy genius.

Cosmop on October 7, 2013 at 2:10 PM

DRUDGE REPORT ‏@DRUDGE_REPORT 41s

Park Service approves amnesty rally on ‘closed’ National Mall…

http://drudge.tw/19vJ2dO

Resist We Much on October 7, 2013 at 2:10 PM

He will be stripped and flogged for his disobedience!

melle1228 on October 7, 2013 at 2:03 PM

The TSA only strips non-islamic women.

txhsmom on October 7, 2013 at 2:11 PM

I think the part can still be played by DiCaprio!

RutRoh on October 7, 2013 at 2:11 PM

IRS to audit 9 year old in 3… 2… 1…

parke on October 7, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Last time I flew out of MSP, the TSA guy was barking at us in line like a damn drill sergeant, while 4 of his co-workers stood there with slack-jawed expressions watching. Guess Captain Hardass wasn’t on the scene to catch this.

brak on October 7, 2013 at 2:12 PM

How is it that a nine-year-old has the freedom to ride the light rail, steal luggage, dine and dash, and sneak onto a flight?

He may or may not have some explaining to do to the authorities but his parents sure as heck are going have some visits with the authorities.

Happy Nomad on October 7, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Did a casino let him place a bet?

RadClown on October 7, 2013 at 2:16 PM

I’m no defender of the TSA, but nowhere in here does it suggest that he bypassed the magnetometer. Yes, he failed to show ID, but that’s just because 9 year olds don’t typically have photo id and so TSA doesn’t require it. He stood near a family and slipped in with them, but from the sounds of it he then went through the xray and metal detector just like everyone else.

Now, at the plane is a separate matter, but that’s the airline not the TSA.

I’d like to know wtf is wrong with the parents that their 9 year old can go unmissed for so long.

SoRight on October 7, 2013 at 2:17 PM

“He’s got a lot of explaining to do to the authorities,” says CBS News transportation-safety expert Mark Roseneker, but Roseneker has it backwards. It’s the authorities and the airline that has a lot of explaining to do…

Yup. Imagine blaming this entirely on the boy who outsmarted the authorities, lol. Total weak sauce by the “expert”.

Fallon on October 7, 2013 at 2:18 PM

This story baffles me- no one is talking about who this kid is, and where his parents are! They talk like he is some cheeky little scamp who got away with something, and briefly mention that he ran away from his family. Maybe it’s nothing, but this is a lot of choreography for a kid who is just trying to get away with something. I sincerely hope his family missed him, but I have a feeling that the real story is: what was he running from? No one seems worried about this child in the slightest.

Kristamatic on October 7, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Over the last couple of years, I’ve flown a number of times with my small children. They both have ID, even though it isn’t required. The crazy thing is that most times going through “security”, they don’t even *want* to see my kids’ IDs – we’ll hold them out for them, and they routinely either push them back or put them to the side. (Makes me feel that my kids are *real* safe in an airport!) Hearing this story, I am not surprised that this is how the kid got through.

Katja on October 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM

DRUDGE REPORT ‏@DRUDGE_REPORT 41s

Park Service approves amnesty rally on ‘closed’ National Mall…

http://drudge.tw/19vJ2dO

Resist We Much on October 7, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I was going to say unbelievable, but it’s not. WW2 vets visiting memorials are told to pound sand while criminal aliens are welcomed with open arms.

txhsmom on October 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM

He probably was able to slip by and not get groped because most TSA and airline gate personnel are like Tyrannosaurus Rex: Huge body, little bitty useless arms and bad eyesight.

(Saying this is probably a huge mistake. I have to fly to the a Left Coast this week. I’ll probably get jacked up AGAIN)

Jomama on October 7, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I’m no defender of the TSA, but nowhere in here does it suggest that he bypassed the magnetometer. Yes, he failed to show ID, but that’s just because 9 year olds don’t typically have photo id and so TSA doesn’t require it.

They are supposed to check for boarding passes, though, and didn’t with this child. Also, while children don’t usually have to provide ID for domestic flights (international is another matter), the TSA agent is supposed to check with the parent for every child that passes through. In both cases, the TSA checkpoint failed.

Ed Morrissey on October 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

I figure out how he did it!

Shy Guy on October 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Now, at the plane is a separate matter, but that’s the airline not the TSA.

SoRight on October 7, 2013 at 2:17 PM

I’d like to know why the flight attendants didn’t catch the fact that the head count was off. And most flights I’m on are so full, how did he find an empty seat? Did he crawl up into an overhead bin and disguise himself as a carry-on?

Happy Nomad on October 7, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Over the last couple of years, I’ve flown a number of times with my small children. They both have ID, even though it isn’t required. The crazy thing is that most times going through “security”, they don’t even *want* to see my kids’ IDs – we’ll hold them out for them, and they routinely either push them back or put them to the side. (Makes me feel that my kids are *real* safe in an airport!) Hearing this story, I am not surprised that this is how the kid got through.

Katja on October 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM

The last time we flew as a family my ASD son was interrogated by some large black TSA woman in Detroit. It really freaked us all out. We’ve driven ever since.

txhsmom on October 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM

However, no one’s paying me to secure airports, either.

No but they are charging you to secure airports. Might I add that it is not like jihadists are against using their young. At this point I think this child deserves a prize for showing us our next shoe/underwear bomber possibility.

Cindy Munford on October 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM

P.S. MSP is one of the airports we’ve had the thing with our kids’ IDs happen at. My only ideas for why this might be this case is either “since it’s not required, we’re not going to check” or that if there were a case of kidnapping or some such, they don’t want to be the “liable” party for letting someone through with a kid that doesn’t match the ticket or some such, because if you don’t check, it’s “not your fault”.

Katja on October 7, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Oh good, that means now there will be a push to force children to have ID and the TSA will now be able to grope them as well.

MobileVideoEngineer on October 7, 2013 at 2:25 PM

I was going to say unbelievable, but it’s not. WW2 vets visiting memorials are told to pound sand while criminal aliens are welcomed with open arms.

txhsmom on October 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM

They stormed the open borders unlike the WWII vets, who stormed the beaches of Normandy. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Resist We Much on October 7, 2013 at 2:26 PM

The last time we flew as a family my ASD son was interrogated by some large black TSA woman in Detroit. It really freaked us all out. We’ve driven ever since.

txhsmom on October 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM

My kids are 2 and 3, and we haven’t flown for over a year. I think the TSA may have even realized that they wouldn’t get useful info from them!

Katja on October 7, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Wait, wait!

Are you saying we have to make our airports secure against 9 year olds?

Because they are about 3,000 times more inventive than your hopped up jihadi, even when he has a large organization behind him.

Why next you will be saying we have to make them secure against 5 year olds… a task at which even the Olympian Gods would quaver in fear and consternation.

ajacksonian on October 7, 2013 at 2:29 PM

9-year-old boy outsmarts TSA

Is Al Qaeda smarter than a 5th grader?

faraway on October 7, 2013 at 2:30 PM

How the heck did he get on the plane?

gophergirl on October 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Like the article says, he chatted up the gate agent, then waited until she was distracted and slipped onto the jetway.

What I wonder….

At what point did his parents realize he was gone and what did they do about it? MSP is not some place you ride your bike to, like the corner store.

CurtZHP on October 7, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Having a 9-year-old defeat the system

Not just “the system”, that kid could trounce Barky in a math test, too.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on October 7, 2013 at 2:35 PM

DRUDGE REPORT ‏@DRUDGE_REPORT 41s

Park Service approves amnesty rally on ‘closed’ National Mall…

http://drudge.tw/19vJ2dO

Resist We Much on October 7, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Sounds like a wide open “free speech” opportunity. Bring our own signs. ¡Sí se puede!

de rigueur on October 7, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Sounds like a wide open “free speech” opportunity. Bring our own signs. ¡Sí se puede!

de rigueur on October 7, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Just go to a park and let them know you are exercising your first amendment right to assemble peaceably. And that as Congress can write no law abridging that, then no President can order anyone to stop you from doing that.

I just can’t wait until hunting season and those federal lands where hunting is permitted… how do you stop bunches of people with shotguns, anyway?

ajacksonian on October 7, 2013 at 2:41 PM

D.B. Cooper’s boy?

mankai on October 7, 2013 at 2:41 PM

…a [TSA] spokesperson said staffing is currently low due to the number of employees furloughed in the wake of the federal government shutdown.

That was their excuse…the govt. shutdown.

JetBoy on October 7, 2013 at 2:43 PM

This kid could fix the ObamaCare software singlehandedly

faraway on October 7, 2013 at 2:43 PM

This kid’s got balls…

joejm65 on October 7, 2013 at 2:49 PM

I’d like to know wtf is wrong with the parents that their 9 year old can go unmissed for so long.

SoRight on October 7, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Maybe they were both working trying to make ends meet in this abysmal economy?

chewmeister on October 7, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Kid’s poor mom

Shy Guy on October 7, 2013 at 2:52 PM

When I first heard this I had the typical Mom/Grandma reaction…. OMG. Where are the parents?
Now, I’m wondering about this kid. I want to know just what his situation is.

I had 9 year olds. I know 9 year olds. Most kids that age don’t have the ability, the wherewithal or the guts to plan or carry out something elaborate like that. Heck, lots of adults don’t either. It takes a a kid with a lot of cunning to plan this on his own. He tried once then went back again. It’s no easy trip to that airport. It’s not easy to be that sneaky and outfox that many adults. Even if the adults aren’t the sharpest tacks in the box.

Jomama on October 7, 2013 at 2:55 PM

A couple scenarios with attendant consequences leap to mind here:

1. What will be/ought to be the national reaction to this if it turns out the kid is 1st generation Somali with fairly recent immigrant parents, mom wears the full body misogyny shroud and dad is, shall we say, very active in CAIR-MN and his local mosque?

2. If he’s just an enterprising yoot with balls of steel we ought to hire the guy as a secret agent.

Sacramento on October 7, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Now, at the plane is a separate matter, but that’s the airline not the TSA.
SoRight on October 7, 2013 at 2:17 PM

I’d like to know why the flight attendants didn’t catch the fact that the head count was off. And most flights I’m on are so full, how did he find an empty seat? Did he crawl up into an overhead bin and disguise himself as a carry-on?

Happy Nomad on October 7, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Exactly, in order to maximize their profits and cut losses, most airlines go for full capacity these days, I fly all the time and I can be hard pressed to remember a time when my flight wasn’t full, especially international flights…actually the captain and its crew put the info out there while people are still boarding, something along the line ‘we’re flying at full capacity today pls be patient until all passengers get on board and get seated’ etc…I would imagine a flight to Vegas would be packed too, I flew from both N and S Cali to Vegas (and Vegas is actually within driving distance), yet it was full every time…and the few times when I flew very locally (between S and N Cali) and there were empty seats on the plane (the aircrafts were fairly small too) you could see the flight attendant counting the passengers and checking the head count against her flight manifest, not once but a couple of times…

jimver on October 7, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Not just “the system”, that kid could trounce Barky in a math test, too.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on October 7, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Come on; they both give the Clinton answer on how much lunch is – $0.00.

Steve Eggleston on October 7, 2013 at 3:12 PM

The two things that seem the weirdest (one already mentioned):

1. So he sneaked in with another family… even without ID don’t they need tickets?

2. How did he find a seat on the plane?

WitchDoctor on October 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM

As for the family situation, something tells me…

- The little delinquent has a record with the local police department,

- The mom is a lobster-eating SNAP user, and

- If there’s a dad in the picture, it’s a stepdad.

Steve Eggleston on October 7, 2013 at 3:19 PM

The two things that seem the weirdest (one already mentioned):

1. So he sneaked in with another family… even without ID don’t they need tickets?

2. How did he find a seat on the plane?

WitchDoctor on October 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM

This story is a bit surreal…if it was Southwest, I’d have understood, they do not assign seats, but Delta do, so there’s no explanation for that…assuming the flight wasn’t full (which is a bit unlikely, especially on a Vegas route) how on earth did he know which seats were not assigned/taken, you can’t just stay in the aisle waiting for all passengers to seat (to spot the empty seats), you’d be in the way…this means that he sat at least on a number of seats and asked to leave when he couldn’t show his seat assignment/boarding pass…and this didn’t draw anyone’s attention??? a kid moving from seat to seat on a plane, incapable of showing his boarding pass…sure, he could always say he lost his boarding pass while boarding, but then you’d have the flight attendant intervening to find his assigned seat…there’s something not right with this story, or the boy just got lucky…

jimver on October 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM

The last time we flew as a family my ASD son was interrogated by some large black TSA woman in Detroit. It really freaked us all out. We’ve driven ever since.

txhsmom on October 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Which of those characteristics freaked you out the most about her? Or was it the combination?

DarkCurrent on October 7, 2013 at 3:37 PM

So, the TSA is NOT smarter than a 3rd-Grader!

Another Drew on October 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

I like ragging on TSA as much as anybody but it wasn’t the TSA that’s responsible for this. It’s Delta. It’s Delta employees that let him on the plane without a boarding pass.

MNHawk on October 7, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Terrorists know this too now.

The US of Zimbabwe is worse than the actual Zimbabwe.

Schadenfreude on October 7, 2013 at 3:48 PM

I like ragging on TSA as much as anybody but it wasn’t the TSA that’s responsible for this. It’s Delta. It’s Delta employees that let him on the plane without a boarding pass.

MNHawk on October 7, 2013 at 3:46 PM

They messed up no doubt, but you can’t even get through security without a boarding pass. Even for a kid as far as I’ve ever witnessed. Did the TSA agent not bother to count the number of tickets she was handed?

WitchDoctor on October 7, 2013 at 3:53 PM

With the massive debt he is going to be saddled with, starting in about 10 years, he should be trying to find a way out of the country…or at least a way to avoid having to pay it. Vegas won’t help him, and will probably just get him into IRS/NSA files.

Karmi on October 7, 2013 at 4:33 PM

you know what’s really distracting ? A scantily clad female warrior bursting out of her leopard skin cloth bikini, right here on HotAir ! “Male gamers only” it says.

And the rest of my day was off kilter, geez.

williampeck1958 on October 7, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Not to take anything away from this kid’s accomplishment, but all it really requires is the ability to blend in and take advantage of distractions.

Being 9 years old was an advantage, making it easier to blend in and take advantage of a distraction. What’s impressive is that he never gave himself away through nervousness or guilty conscience. Few 9-year-olds could pull that off.

There Goes the Neighborhood on October 7, 2013 at 4:57 PM

He did steal some luggage and a sandwich.

BobMbx on October 7, 2013 at 5:12 PM

This story baffles me- no one is talking about who this kid is, and where his parents are! They talk like he is some cheeky little scamp who got away with something, and briefly mention that he ran away from his family. Maybe it’s nothing, but this is a lot of choreography for a kid who is just trying to get away with something. I sincerely hope his family missed him, but I have a feeling that the real story is: what was he running from? No one seems worried about this child in the slightest.

Kristamatic on October 7, 2013 at 2:18 PM

i was thinking the same thing, maybe he has a bad home life he’s trying to get away from. who knows, very strange story. i would love to know more. this is so strange that it seems like a movie storyline or something.

you know what’s really distracting ? A scantily clad female warrior bursting out of her leopard skin cloth bikini, right here on HotAir ! “Male gamers only” it says.

And the rest of my day was off kilter, geez.

williampeck1958 on October 7, 2013 at 4:50 PM

i’m seeing that too lol. i guess i’m prohibited from playing! oh darn.

The last time we flew as a family my ASD son was interrogated by some large black TSA woman in Detroit. It really freaked us all out. We’ve driven ever since.

txhsmom on October 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM

why was her race worth mentioning?

Sachiko on October 7, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Obama: If I had a son…

socalcon on October 7, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Speaking as a Cub Scout Leader (8-10) for 15 years — not many of them could do this, and fewer would even try. Could see one or two pulling it off, if they even thought about such a thing.

Think about the “Catch Me if You Can” guy (the real one, Frank Abagnale Jr, not the movie version).
Fiction? Go for “Ender’s Game”.

However:
Why did he want to do it?
Where did he get experience / knowledge of the holes to exploit?
How did he get away with it for so long once he was on the plane (not on the unattended minors manifest and not attached to any adults, his only slip apparently; as said above, didn’t they count heads or check seat assignments)?
What is in his “personality profile” that gave him the confidence (or desperation) to try this stunt?
Did he see it in a movie / on tv, extrapolate from a show or book or video game; get set up by an adult as a stunt or (God forbid) a terrorist test run?

We will probably never know, because the media often drops this kind of story once the new wears off.

AesopFan on October 8, 2013 at 12:26 AM