United States airports are notorious for being overcrowded, filled with highly anxious people, and often a bit too over-protective. Last Thursday, however, at St. Paul International Airport, security measures did not seem as intense. A 9 year-old, ticketless Minneapolis boy sneaked on a plane and headed to Vegas, unnoticed.
While most cannot get through security checkpoint one without having to throw things away, this child got through three levels of security, officials said. TSA performed their normal screening, gate agents let him through, and he boarded Delta Flight 1651 without incident.
Somehow, the flight crew became suspicious during the flight and contacted authorities, who were waiting for the adventurous 9 year-old when the plane landed in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 9 year-old child is reportedly a runaway and was returned to his parents after a quick interview with the Vegas police.
Somewhere around 1.8 million travelers pass through United States airports daily. After September 11, 2001, security measures turned into drastic measures making it even more unpleasant to go through the process of flying. With terrorism always in the forefront of air travelers’ minds, a mistake like this could easily start a new frenzy in those still not comfortable with the idea of flying. With airports checking everything from shampoo bottles to crotches, it is quite shocking to some that a child boarded a plane undetected.
Always on the lookout for terrorist behavior TSA has some tough rules to follow if you want to get on your flight, and since the 1970s, these rules have only gotten stricter. People wanting to simply board a plane and get on with their trip find it tedious to have so many hoops to jump through beforehand, but remembering four box cutters were responsible for a nation’s harsh wake-up call is enough to keep the reality in check.
Once inside an airport, you have to pass metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs, and possibly have a search of your clothes, luggage or more. It seems the only way anyone could bypass the seeming infinite security measures is by pure luck. How many security guards were not paying attention when that 9 year-old child made his way to the plane undetected? Travelers in America have to show identification every time they reach a new checkpoint, and ticket stubs and boarding passes are always within reach, just in case.
One month after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush signed a new law that completely changed the infrastructure of airport security, and the Aviation and Transportation Security Act established a new agency, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Airport personnel had to learn new ways to handle customers, shoes had to be removed at certain checkpoints, bottles had to be a certain size, razors could not be brought onto a plane and many other exhausting changes were implemented causing a surge in complaints from travelers. With all of this security, and all of this reform, and all of the complaining done by the general population about lines and routine, last Thursday a 9 year old boy boarded a Delta flight and flew to Vegas. Apparently, we still haven’t gotten it right.
Written by: Amy Magness Whatley