from the news-at-eleven dept
An eleven year old Manchester boy decided that shopping with his mother was just a little on the boring side and decided to run away. Not content with running away to join the circus, as most little boys are wont to do, he decided that running away on flight to Rome was the better option. Despite not having a passport or a boarding pass, the boy was able to make it through airport security and board the flight. How?
It's then understood Liam ‘tail-gated’ a family with other children even though he had no passport or boarding card tricking security staff into thinking he was part of the group. By the time he passed through the scanner at security, it was 1.15pm.Since the boy was only eleven, he was able to pass for a member of a family traveling through the security checks without any questions. He was then able to pull the same maneuver when boarding the flight. While it might be easier for a kid to pull off something of this nature, it does show that there is still a major weakness in security, something that no amount of post 9/11 security policy can fix.
It is understood Liam headed almost immediately to the first departing flight, the 2pm service to Rome where passengers were already queuing to board the flight.
Airline staff at the gate again appear to have thought he was with a family and failed to check for a passport or a boarding card and allowed him to walk to the plane.
One of these weaknesses is that we are training our security to look for the wrong things.
Aviation security expert Chris Yates said: “This was a lapse but I don't believe this was a serious security breach. Anybody who passes through Manchester Airport must be screened whether that is through a full body scanner or a metal detector. That did happen in this instance.You see, the people running security were so caught up in looking for potentially dangerous objects such as liquids over 3 ounces or nail clippers that they completely neglected to check if the people entering the gates or boarding the flights were supposed to be there. Even with this kid being eleven years old, that is a pretty big slip up. One that resulted in a lot of people being suspended while an investigation is under way.
I know what some of you are going to say. "The kid was eleven, how much of a threat could he be?" Sure this kid was eleven. He couldn't have been too much of a threat. However, it shows a major weakness in our security: the human element. Humans are naturally fallible. We make mistakes. As long as there is a human element, no amount of security is foolproof. Even though this kid was eleven, social engineering knows no age boundaries. Even the strongest security systems in the world can fall by a single lapse in judgment by a human being. As we become more and more dependent on machines to scan and screen passengers, we will be opening up larger and larger holes via the human element.