Wednesday, he takes the light rail to MSP, grabs a random suitcase off the carousel, and then sits down for a snack at the restaurant outside security. He has coffee (Coffee! Served to a 9-year-old!), Sierra Mist, and fried pickles (this is Minnesota, you betcha). The staff gossips among themselves about the kid being by himself but does nothing. Citing a call of nature, the kid ditches the check and the suitcase, at which point we learn that an unattended bag gets a lot more attention than an unattended child.
Thursday, the kid’s in the zone, and he ups the ante. He takes the light rail to the airport again, and this time he tags along behind a family with kids to stroll through the security checkpoint. Apparently the TSA employee who’s supposed to be counting the kids and matching them to the tickets just decides, “Number of children: Many.” Once through security, our hero just walks onto a flight to Las Vegas while the gate agent is distracted.
And that’s where things unravel. Sitting in one spot for a couple of hours, he FINALLY gets noticed by some of the people we pay to notice things, as the flight attendants twig to the fact that they have one more unattended child than they’re supposed to. Frankly, I’d be fascinated to have heard that conversation. I don’t expect that anyone surmised that the kid just walked onboard by himself off the street, so where did they think this “extra” child came from? Mistaken connection? Parental kidnapping of some kind?
Anyway, the flight attendants are totally not cool, and they call the LV police, who meet the plane when it lands and pop the kid into child services. This is disappointing; can you imagine how this relentless genius would have torn the town up at the blackjack tables? Think “21” crossed with “The Wizard,” and winding up with “Oceans 9.”
All kidding aside, I suspect that this boy’s home life must be bad, and I assume that there will be some hard questions for his parent(s) in the near future. I hope that this episode will lead to better care for him. Nonetheless, I can’t help but read about his adventures with a certain admiration and respect.
Regarding the light rail in Minneapolis: it goes from the airport to the Mall of America, or you can go the other direction from the airport to downtown Minneapolis. You can walk to Target Field from the last stop (I think it is the last stop), home of the Twins. The season is over, but I’m not sure that I would have recommended watching the Twins near the end of this year.
One of the stops is a few blocks from my sister’s house, which makes airport drop off and pickup easy using the light rail.
None of this surprises me. I’ve traveled enough with two children to know that children who look like they are with an adult are often barely screened. Find one adult who has at least two, preferably three or more children and you are getting scanned through. The tricky thing is going to be grabbing an empty seat on boarding, you’ll probably move around a lot, but the attendants are so busy boarding that "sorry wrong seat"is going to serve you fine. And finding a family on a Vegas flight (Orlando flight - THAT would be blindingly easy for a nine year old). But it doesn’t look like he did - which is why he eventually got caught - if he would have gotten on an Orlando plane, the attendants would have never realized he was unaccompanied.
We did have one TSA agent who decided our Korean son wasn’t ours, so sometimes they scrutinize.
They’re also connecting Minneapolis & St. Paul downtowns, running it down the middle of University Avenue, among other places.
There some mildly amusing incidents when they first put it in because the trains are two-car trains and look a lot like bendy buses, and dumb people in their macho-aggressive trucks thought the “bus” could stop on a dime when they ran the flashing red lights and weaved through the drop-bars. Turns out, not so much with the stopping distance and very much with the mashing of trucks.