Sneaks Onto Flights, Almost Makes All His Connections
Only 4'9" and 80 pounds,
nine-year old Semaj Booker has federal and airline officials
scratching their heads after he slipped onto two flights on his
journey to Texas from Seattle last week.
Southwest Airlines said Friday their investigation is continuing
on how the youngster passed through airport security and onto
flights from Seattle to Phoenix, and from Phoenix to San
Booker, reported to have been trying to reach his grandfather in
Dallas, is also accused of leading police on a high-speed chase
last Sunday in a stolen car.
"This is such an unusual situation, there's a lot of facets to
it that we're looking into," airline spokeswoman Marilee McInnis
said Friday to the Associated Press.
U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., has asked the TSA to determine
how the boy secured another passenger's name to get on board.
"As Norm says, we spend billions of dollars inconveniencing the
American public and making things safe -- we think," said Dicks'
spokesman George Behan. "Then a 9-year old comes walking
The TSA is working with Southwest to uncover more details, said
TSA spokesperson Jennifer Peppin.
She noted that Booker had the proper boarding pass necessary to
clear federal screening. How he came about getting that pass from
Southwest was "their issue."
Southwest said Wednesday
the boy was issued a boarding pass at Seattle-Tacoma International
Airport after giving information that matched a reservation and
telling employees his mother was already in the boarding area.
As of Friday, Booker was being held at a center for runaways in
Bexar County, which includes San Antonio.
Airline employees stopped him from boarding another flight from
San Antonio to Dallas when he could not explain why he did not have
a boarding pass, said David Hebert, the San Antonio International
The boy probably will remain at the center until his grandfather
or another guardian can take custody of him, said Fred Wist, a
prosecutor in Washington State's Pierce County.