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

“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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