Young boy defies the odds and enjoys a trip


Children do have a tendency to wander, don’t they?

Spend a little time on the Bethany Beach Boardwalk one warm summer evening and it is inevitable that you will see a kid strolling alone, eyes moving quickly from one side to another with a smile as broad as the ocean itself. Wait another few seconds and you will see a harried mother or father grab the child by the hand and back into the sanctity of security.

Call it curiousity. Call it a thirst for life. Call it simply a case of being too young to recognize and appreciate boundaries. However you want to label it, most times children wander off because they just lose sight of where they are supposed to be and don’t quite have the impulse control to refrain from checking out whatever it is that caught their eye at that moment in time.

It is important to remember that phrase, “most times.”

According to various reports, a 9-year-old boy in Minnesota recently got himself to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport via light transit, got screened at airport security and eventually grabbed a seat on a flight to Las Vegas — all without the aid of a boarding pass.

According to a story on nbc.com, the flight crew became suspicious of the boy when they did not see him on the roster of children traveling alone. When confronted, the boy reportedly told a flight attendant that his parents were sitting on the back of the plane. That story apparently didn’t do the trick, and when the child arrived in Las Vegas he was greeted by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and Child Protective Services, who took him into custody and were arranging his return to Minneapolis at the time of the nbc.com story.

So, yeah, this was not a case of a child simply wandering off to investigate something shiny or engage in hot pursuit of a stray dog. I thought back to when I was a 9-year-old little bald-headed boy, armed with dreams of playing catcher for the Baltimore Orioles one day or fantasies of telling my parents to “get off my back. I’m going to Vegas.”

Yeah, that really wasn’t my style back then. I was more of a “Yes, ma’am-Yes, sir” kid, who then would utter something inaudible as I walked away in shame after a browbeating or much-deserved smack on that place I so love to sit. But you have to admit there’s a “Goonies” quality to this kid that you just have to appreciate on some level or another.

This was not his first rodeo in terms of getting himself in trouble, as you might imagine.

According to the nbc.com story, the boy was recently suspended from school, and police at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport were well-aware of the child because he had caused problems there before. In fact, an airport official said security footage and airport staff reports suggest the boy made an unaccompanied visit to the aiport the day before his flight, and had taken a bag that didn’t belong to him from baggage claim, before ultimately leaving it behind in a restaurant he had stopped to eat.

“Obviously, the fact that the child’s actions weren’t detected until he was in flight is concerning,” said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan, before quickly passing the metaphorical buck. “The airport itself isn’t involved in any sort of passenger processing.”

No, that fine little piece of job-failure falls on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the fine people who have brought you thousands of disgusting stockinged feet parading around security like a germ parade and obtrusive personalities who pull out perfectly reasonable people like myself just to flex their authority and ...

But I digress.

In reality, this actually falls mostly on two sources — the airline for allowing this kid to slip onto the plane without a boarding pass, and, well, the kid. Media reports have people acting like this is a horrible security threat that exposes just how easy it is for people to get on our planes and cause mayhem (see “terrorists” and “large people who snore next to Darin the whole flight”).

But you have to offer a little respect to the kid, and his ability to explore better than the rest of us.