9 Year-Old Skips Through Airport Security, Flies To Vegas

It’s supposed to be impossible. Armed guards are in place to prevent it from happening. Three levels of airport security were breached, and airline and TSA officials have no idea how he did it. That’s the situation at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (MSP) as a 9-year-old was able to get past all that then fly to Las Vegas on his own, without a ticket.

“At this point, this is a Delta and TSA issue,” said airport spokesperson Pat Hogan in a KARE11 tv report. “This is a rare incident.” Rare it may be, but the boy made it on to Delta flight 1651 and was not discovered until the plane landed in Las Vegas.

Both Delta and the TSA are investigating the incident and the 9-year-old stowaway, also believed to be a runaway. Getting past the TSA security screening as well as Delta’s gate agents and the flight crew on the aircraft was simply all in a day’s work for the boy. MSP airport officials report that he also took someone’s luggage off a carousel, ordered food at a restaurant before going through security and even asked his server to watch his luggage while he used the restroom. He never returned.Sound familiar? You might be thinking of the incident not long ago when a man posing as a pilot made it into the cockpit on a US Airways flight.

Airline gets creative to improve customer experience

When airline customers think about flying they often focus on flight schedules and possible delays, damaged or lost luggage, and making connections. Its not exactly a happy place for their minds to be. Now, one airline gets creative and is making changes to move beyond that.

Delta air lines, the one that not long ago added Seattle Best Coffee, will make Apple iPads available to rent on flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) when the airline upgrades its Concourse G terminal at the airport beginning in January 2012. Using “virtual newsstands” at “Media Bars” throughout the terminal, customers will be able to download their choice of content, including publications, movies, music and apps. Once customers reach their destination, a prepaid postage box they got at the time of rental will be used to return the iPad.

Pretty cool idea really but what else?

“As part of our plan to invest in improving the customer experience both in the air and on the ground, Delta is excited to showcase some of Minnesota’s finest chefs and foods to passengers from around the globe while providing our customers with superior amenities,” said Delta’s Bill Lentsch, senior VP, Minnesota Operations.

At MSP, Delta will also rework its current offerings with 12 new local chef-driven restaurants and fresh markets including

  • Mill City Tavern, a reflection of the wealth of Midwestern farms and artisan purveyors with fresh, local ingredients.
  • Mimosa will feature the flavors and textures of simple French country cooking.
  • Minnesota Beer Hall, a festive gathering place to relax prior to flight.
  • Minni Bar, an easygoing cafe offering a menu of globally inspired sandwiches.
  • Twinburger, a famous South Minneapolis cheeseburger that features cheese inside the meat patty rather than on top.
  • Shoyu, a modern Japanese menu that celebrates fresh ingredients where noodles and dumpling wrappers will be made fresh daily in a glass structure that juts out onto the terminal, engaging travelers.
  • Vero, features thin-crust, artisan-style pizzas.
  • Volante, a modern Italian restaurant renowned for being able to take three seasonal ingredients and create a true Italian experience.

“We’re confident that the unique concepts will reinforce our commitment to the Twin Cities and maintain the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s status as one of the best in the country” added Lentsch.

Sure, it’s not a guarantee flights will be on time or luggage will make it with you to your destination but who doesn’t like a good gourmet meal at the airport?

Flickr photo by jhritz

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Photo of the Day (1.1.2011)

Happy New Year! We hope today finds you merry and optimistic about the year ahead, rather than remorseful about last night….

This photo of an empty waiting room seems appropriate for two reasons. First, I always associate an airport waiting room – or airports in general – with anticipation. I’m not usually inside an airport unless I’m going somewhere, or just returning. We can think about 2011 as a trip that we are about to embark on, with all the happy trip anticipation that comes with the sound and smells of an airport.

The second reason I like this photo is because an empty waiting room is generally a good thing. No one likes to wait, and a packed waiting room usually means that somehow plans have been delayed. Flickr user jwannie writes that “the MSP airport at 5am is boring,” but I happen to think it looks like a wonderful place to be.

Have any travel photos that exude optimism? Upload them to Gadling’s Flickr pool, and we just might choose one for our Photo of the Day feature.

Breaking: Mystery canine finding at MSP calls for bomb squad and police *Updated*

A bomb-sniffing dog has found something at MSP, and everyone is scrambling to find out what.

An inbound flight at 2 p.m. today unloaded a bag in which canine sniffers took a particular interest, and the Bloomington bomb squad arrived around 2:10, according to The Star Tribune. As of now, parts of the Lindbergh terminal have been evacuated. Baggage claim areas including carousel 12 are closed, so if you’re picking someone up, prepare to wait. KARE 11 reports that “All roads to the ticketing levels have been also been closed.”

The Humphrey terminal (HHH) has not been affected. Passengers on Lindbergh flights, while the airport is still operational, should expect delays and possible cancellations.

***UPDATE*** The Star Tribune reports that the bag was a false alarm; “no dangerous materials were found.” Click here for some shots of caution tape and empty terminal areas, and soon, crowds. Passengers should still expect delays.

Theories? Possible culprits include: ham sandwich, summer sausage and excessive cat hair.

Minneapolis-St.Paul airport spends $2.2 Million to end terminal confusion

When departing out of Minneapolis-St.Paul airport (MSP), do you know whether you are leaving from Lindbergh terminal or Humphrey terminal? Well, neither do 25,000 other people planning to take a flight from this airport.

The two terminals are 3 miles apart, and the only highway signs mention the terminals by their name, not by the airlines that fly out of them.

In a move of sheer brilliance, the airport authority has finally come to its senses, and is going to invest $2.2 Million on new signs and some simple logic to help passengers get to their correct terminal.

One of the measures will rename the terminals “one” and “two”, a system that works for every other airport in the world. Though locals need not worry, as the official names of the terminal buildings will stay unchanged.

Lindbergh was always the main terminal for MSP, and Humphrey was only used by charter planes. The spectacular growth in low cost carriers changed all of that, but the airport never took the time to re-evaluate its signage.

Hopefully the new terminal descriptions and better signage will prevent people from showing up at the wrong terminal, especially since there is no easy way to get from one terminal to another when you screw up.