Nine-year-old boy scrambles Anchorage airport security

Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A 9-year-old boy slipped past a security checkpoint at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, scrambling airport security and delaying travelers.

Greg Warren, spokesman for the federal Transportation Security Administration, said the boy triggered the metal detector at the main checkpoint for Concourse B, then wandered off at about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

''And they couldn't find him,'' Warren said. ''He had gotten through and they didn't know where he was.''

It was unclear how the boy left unnoticed, he said.

Because airline officials didn't know how he had triggered the alarm, the concourse was no longer considered safe, Warren said.

That meant shutting the area down in accordance with standard policy of the Transportation Security Administration. The agency manages airport checkpoints, security procedures and staffing nationwide.

''When you close the concourse, you have everyone come out,'' Warren said. ''And they have to be screened and searched again in order to come back through.''

The Concourse B security checkpoint feeds 10 airline gates that serve Alaska, Northwest and United airlines, said Mark Butler, airport spokesman.

Officials soon found the boy as the crowd streamed out of the concourse on the airport's top level. Among the crowd were 122 passengers waiting to leave on Alaska Airlines Flight 98, the only flight delayed by the security breach, Warren said.

Some planes landed and sat idle on the runway. Larry Persily was aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 73 from Juneau.

''We sat on the tarmac for probably 25 or 30 minutes before they let us out,'' Persily said.

Beyond the concourse entrance, a ''horrendous mass'' of ''hundreds of people'' waited to clear the metal detector, Persily said.

Alaska Airlines Flight 98 managed an 11:26 a.m. take off and landed at the Seattle Tacoma Airport roughly an hour late, at 3:33 p.m., Alaska Airlines officials said.

Warren did not know if the boy was questioned. The Transportation Security Administration will investigate the security breach.

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