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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Precious little funny about stowaway's vegas adventure

I’m trying hard not to treat this like a joke, but it’s really, really, really difficult.

In more than one way, the 9-year-old deserves a pat on the back.

I mean, come on — who among us wouldn’t want to accomplish what he did?

A 9-year-old Minneapolis boy got on a plane and flew to Las Vegas on Sunday without a ticket.
Think about the many breakdowns in this scenario.

He’s a runaway, so there’s the ability to sneak away from home undetected.

He was able to get to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

He got past security and through the X-ray machines.

Then, after he made it into the clear, he was able to put away his ID — oh wait ...

Finally, he got on an airplane by walking past a gate check that on the countless times I’ve flown has required a scan of a ticket and a beep of permission to proceed to the battle for the armrest.

Luckily, the flight crew realized the problem when the young man didn’t show up on its “unattended fliers” list.

Thank goodness for paperwork.

The problems in this boy’s life seemingly go very deep.

His father told a Minneapolis radio station that he doesn’t understand how the boy was able to accomplish what he did.

“How can you let a 9-year-old sneak past security, get on the plane without anyone stopping him, questioning him or anything?” asked the father, who wished to remain anonymous.

He told the station that the boy left to take the trash out on Oct. 2 and never returned. His flight occurred Oct. 6.

Apparently, he disappears a lot, according to an interview with the father. He said the boy usually goes to stay at a friend’s house.

According to The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the boy has had numerous run-ins with the law, including an incident in which he stole a car and went on a highway joyride.

“We didn’t know our son went up to the airport, got past security check, got on that plane — we didn’t know,” the father said. “We’re not mind readers.”

You’re not supposed to be, sir. You’re simply supposed to know where your minor child is.

In another interview, the boy’s father responded to one of the concerns a lot of those who heard about the story have expressed.

Count me among this group.

“My son is not a terrorist — he’s a 9-year-old,” the dad told WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.

Yes, what the father says is true. He’s not a terrorist. He’s a pain in the rump who obviously gets to do what he wants, and that apparently includes running around the country.

But, this little guy proved something very serious — completely by accident.

If you’re traveling through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, you might not be able to really trust those security screeners and that gate check personnel.

As we’ve seen numerous times around the world, actual terrorists aren’t above using children to complete their dastardly deeds. Thus, it’s important that they get at least a cursory scan to ensure nothing untoward is happening.

My first thought in hearing about this little scoundrel’s trip to Vegas was to laugh and give him credit for being so creative.

But, the more I thought about it, the more the weaknesses became clear and then painful.

This story teaches a lesson to both parents and the travel industry.

It’s important to learn what we can from this youngster.

In this case, what happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas.


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