A family is suing Charlotte Douglas International Airport and US Airways for the death of their teenage son, who was found dead in Boston. A preliminary investigation suggests he breached security at CLT then crawled into the wheel well of a US Airways flight heading to Boston.
Christopher Chestnut, the family’s lawyer, stated, "The family wants to be sure that one, no other mother or no other father has to grieve like they’re grieving and, moreover, that Americans who fly on commercial airliners are safe, especially those flying out of Charlotte."
Yeah, that’s all well and good, but the teenager made the conscious choice to try to stowaway on an airplane. Any amount of research would have raveled that trying to stowaway in a wheel well is like signing your death warrant. But no amount of security can stop stupidity.
I don’t mean to sound so flippant–I grieve with the family for their loss–and am pleased (though I wish it was under different circumstance) to point out that airport screening remains prone to loopholes.
Hopefully security camera footage will reveal how exactly the young man got to the plane. I can think of two ways. Perhaps he just slipped away during the boarding of a small aircraft on the tarmac–though I don’t see how he could get to that point without a valid boarding pass.
Alternatively, he could have entered the private aviation area of CLT and found a way to the tarmac. I once flew through CLT on a Piper Cherokee and remember how easy it was to go from the private aviation area to the commercial aviation area. That was many years ago, though.
It’s much too early to blame the TSA for this, but it would come as no surprise if the kid breached one of their checkpoints. US Airways may also be partially culpable if they allowed the kid onto the tarmac with an invalid boarding pass (maybe he photoshopped one…).
And on the matter of the wrongful death lawsuit–it should fail unless the kid was in some way mentally handicapped, which I suspect the family would have alleged by this point.