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9 Year Old Gets Past TSA Airport Security – Flies Seattle to Texas without a Ticket January 20, 2007

Posted by Dan in News.
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Perhaps the most amazing part of this story is that the police arrested the 9 year old!

From the Washington Post:

SEATTLE, Jan. 18 — Weighing in at 80 pounds and standing 4 feet 9 inches tall, Semaj Booker has established himself as a regional heavyweight in the pre-adolescent sport of sneaking out of the house.

He could be the most persistent, most creative and most publicized 9-year-old runaway in the history of the Pacific Northwest. As his mother says, he really hates it here.

Semaj can drive a stolen car 90 mph while leading a police chase, as he demonstrated Sunday. The chase ended only after he blew the engine on a 1986 Acura swiped from a neighbor who had left the car unlocked and running. The boy then refused to get out of the car, which he had crashed into a tree.

Police had to break a car window, grab him and take him back to his mother’s apartment in Lakewood, a gritty working-class suburb near Tacoma. This was his third stolen car in the past month, according to his mother, who said he learned how to drive playing video games.

The morning after the car crash, Semaj came up with a new, improved runaway scheme — one that would transport him to Texas free of charge, get him on all-news cable television and prompt a local congressman to ask angry questions about how a kid could outfox a major airline and slip through federal airport security.

Early Monday, the boy managed to sneak out of his house and travel about 50 miles to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Police speculate he hitched a ride or stole another car.

His mother, Sakinah Booker, who is single and has three other boys, reported him missing at 7:30 a.m., but had no idea where he had gone. She later told reporters that Semaj loathes his life in Washington state, has tried to run away nine times since moving to the region less than a year ago and is “seeking a strong male figure” back in his former home state of Texas. His grandfather lives in Dallas.

At the Sea-Tac airport, Semaj did not have a reservation, nor did he have a means of buying a ticket. But he single-handedly conned Southwest Airlines and the federal Transportation Security Administration into allowing him to board a flight to San Antonio via Phoenix.

And that has annoyed Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), in whose district Semaj reluctantly lives.

“We have spent millions of dollars and inconvenienced the American public mightily trying to make air travel safe,” Dicks said. “If a 9-year-old can exploit this security system, we are going to have to look into the procedures.”

He ordered his staff to find out from the TSA how Semaj talked his way through Sea-Tac. This is what they learned, said George Behan, a spokesman for Dicks:

“The kid comes up to the first level of security at the airport, where an airport employee checks ID and his boarding pass. The kid says I lost my boarding pass. The airline employee takes him to a Southwest Airline ticket agent and the kid comes up with the name of a passenger on a flight to San Antonio.”

Semaj had somehow found a loophole — in federal law and in the regulations of Southwest Airlines.

Federal law does not require children under 16 to have identification when boarding an aircraft, so he did not have to produce any ID other than a boarding pass when going through security.

And Southwest Airlines gave him the boarding pass, it said in a statement, after “the young man presented himself as a 12-year-old to our ticket counter saying that his mother was already in the boarding area.”

The airlines and federal officials do not yet know how Semaj managed to find the name of an actual passenger on the flight. They say they are investigating the entire incident.

It was while in transit in Texas that Semaj ran out of loopholes.

Trying to change planes in San Antonio for a flight to Dallas, he could not produce information that matched a reservation. Southwest Airlines said the boy could not give them the name of an adult who knew that he was supposed to be on the flight.

Police took the boy away to a juvenile detention hall. They soon found his name on a missing persons national database and called police in suburban Lakewood.

At the Lakewood Police Department, Lt. David Guttu said that the boy’s mother is arranging for her father or sister in Dallas to go to San Antonio to fetch the boy.

He has been charged in Lakewood with two felonies connected to the high-speed, stolen-car chase. But the local prosecutor has decided not to issue a warrant for his arrest or seek extradition.

“As long as we know he is in a safe place, we can work on the criminal charges later,” Guttu said.

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Comments»

1. eno - January 22, 2007

that just shows how much airport security has improved

2. Margie Byrnes - January 26, 2007

I am the first to say some kids are out of control… however I would be interested to know what this childs IQ is. Does he have a future that includes alot of court and jail time or Is it possible that he is a very smart kid and if that is the case maybe someone should tap into that and see what this child could become.

3. SAKINAH BOOKER - February 12, 2007

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4. Mito: En Estados Unidos SI que funciona la seguridad « La Gran Nación - Desmitificando al imperio - March 7, 2007

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