Sunday, 6 October 2013

[] boy aged just NINE, walks through airport security and flies to


'Catch Me If You Can' boy aged just NINE, walks through airport security and flies to Las Vegas without a ticket after stealing bag and conning free meal in departures

  • Officials reveal 'Catch Me If You Can' kid took Delta flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas
  • Three levels of checks passed before flight crew get suspicious mid-air
  • Minneapolis official claims 'rare incident' is an issue for the airline and TSA NOT the airport
  • 9-year-old was spotted on airport security camera the previous day stealing bag and skipping out on lunch check at terminal restaurant

By Associated Press and Daily Mail Reporter

A 9-year-old Minneapolis boy was able to get through security and onto a plane to Las Vegas at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport without a ticket, an airport spokesman revealed on Sunday.

Security officials screened the boy, whose exploits echo the Leonardo DiCaprio film Catch Me If You Can, at the airport shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said.

The as-yet unnamed boy slipped though a security checkpoint on Thursday morning and then boarded Delta Flight 1651 that left Minneapolis-St. Paul for Las Vegas at 11:15 a.m.

A 9-year-old runaway 2446151assed through security at Minneapolis airport without a ticket

A 9-year-old runaway passed through this security checkpoint at Minneapolis airport last Thursday without a ticket and flew to Las Vegas


Flight crew became suspicious and contacted Las Vegas police, who met the crew upon landing and transferred the boy to child protection services, Hogan said

According to officials, a security video also shows the boy at the airport terminal on Wednesday, the day BEFORE he took his ticketless trip to Vegas.

He took a bag from the carousel that did not belong to him and ordered lunch at a restaurant outside of the security checkpoints, Hogan said.

He ate and then told the server he had to use the bathroom, left the bag and never returned to pay.

The runaway boy flew to Las Vegas from Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport

The runaway boy flew to Las Vegas from Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport on a Delta airliner like this one, pictured. It was only discovered mid-air that he had no ticket

The owner of the bag was identified and the bag was returned to him, Hogan said.

At this point, this is a Delta and [Transport Security Administration] issue,' Hogan said. 'This is a rare incident.'

In a statement sent to Minneapolis television station KARE-11, Delta officials said, 'We are investigating the incident and cooperating with the agencies involved.'

KARE-11 reported that authorities believe the 9-year-old boy is a runaway from the Twin Cities.

'He had to pass three levels of security,' Terry Trippler, an air travel expert with, told the television station.

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, the runaway's destination

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, with the "Strip" in the background. The 9-year-old flew here from Minneapolis without a ticket

'You have the TSA, the gate agents, and the flight crew and a child comes through without even a seat assignment.'

Tippler said that security introduced after 9/11 obviously still has major flaws.

'While we are safer in the air, this proves there are still gaping holes,' he said.

According to a surveillance video, at 10:37 a.m., the unaccompanied boy arrived at the airport on a southbound light-rail car, the Daily News has reported.

The boy was then screened at Terminal 1 and granted access to its nine airlines despite appearing to have never produced a required ticket.

In an apparently well-thought out plan that has similarities to the Steve Spielberg-directed movie, at one point the boy is believed to have blended in with another family traveling through the airport to evade detection.

The boy's parents told Minneapolis Police they 'hadnt seen much of him today' when officers arrived at the missing child's residence Thursday after he was reported having run away, according to CBS Minneapolis.

Leonardo DiCaprio in the Hollywood film Catch Me If You Can

Leonardo DiCaprio, center, starred in Catch Me If You Can, a film based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, who posed as a Pan Am pilot. The movie echoes the Minneapolis runaway who flew to Las Vegas without a ticket

Catch Me If You Can was based on the real-life exploits of Frank Abagnale, a teenage con-artist who, among many other scams, traveled the world posing as a Pan Am pilot.

'The fact that the child's actions weren't detected until he was in flight is concerning,' said Hogan, who added that producing identification for children is not a requirement of travel.

'More than 33 million people travel through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport every year and I don't know of another instance in my 13 years at the airport in which anything similar has happened.

'Fortunately, the flight crew took appropriate actions to ensure the child's safety, so the story does have a good ending,' Hogan said.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokesman Bill Cassell told ABC News the boy was 'more worldly than most nine-year-old kids.'

'He was able to get onto an airline where he didn't have a ticket and made it five states across the U.S.,' Cassell said. 'If it hadn't been for alert airline employees on our end, he probably never would have been discovered.'

The station reported that Las Vegas police, Hennepin County authorities and the boy's parents are working together.

A statement on the TSA's website said that the federal funding shutdown meant no information on the incident would be immediately available online.


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