In honor of Valentine’s Day, I bring you the following story. The title may indicate sinister motives, but once again we have another tale of a love struck youth unable to bear the thought of being away from the girl that he loved.
Essentially, Ted loved Maya, tried to purchase a walk-up ticket on a United flight from New York to San Francisco that Maya was on, succeeded but was denied access to the secure side of the airport by the TSA because he had no ID, then attempted to crawl through the baggage carousel one level below to make his flight.
The kid is not a low-watt bulb. In recounting the thoughts running through his mind on the day of the incident, he stated:
Ha ha! I wanted to spend a little more time with Maya. The universe conspired for this to happen. I decided to buy a ticket at the last minute from one of those ticket kiosks. I didn’t bring my ID to the airport, but they let me buy a ticket. We waited in the security line and when I got to the front of the line, they said they had to find a way to validate my identity.
I was determined to make this flight. I waited while they tried to check my identity but it was very close to the time the flight was scheduled to depart.
At some point, I asked security, “What will happen if I just go past you.” Their response: “You will reap the consequences.” Really, I wasn’t thinking about other people. I realize that especially in New York, I was trespassing on social norms, but I was just thinking about spending more time with this girl. Eventually, I decided to return to the United ticket kiosk to see what they could do for me. In my eyes, I was a customer and they should be able to help me. United. UniTED. There’s so much Ted in my life! At that point I realized I was getting on this flight, or getting arrested. I felt a certain magnetism. I remember thinking, I’ve gotta do it myself. I’ve just gotta try. If I get arrested, so be it. Love can be that strong.
Whether that TED reference is deliberate not, how many of you are thinking about TED, UA’s defunct "low-cost" subsidiary right now?
I was at the ticket kiosk and I half-jokingly told the person at the counter. “Could you zip me up in a bag and send me through?” I saw a bag moving through those floppy plastic dividers. At a certain point they could tell that I was actually rather serious. They said “Well, there’s nothing stopping you…."
I stepped over the scale. I didn’t jump. I walked over to the baggage carousel and climbed onto the conveyor belt. Over my shoulder I heard people yelling, “Sir, sir you can’t go in there.” By the time I got to the plastic dividers, they stopped the conveyor belt, and I had to crawl on my hands and knees. It was like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where Harrison Ford and that Asian kid were on the mine cart. Low ceilings and totally dark in some places. I had to push someone’s bag out of the way. Eventually it opened up into a corridor.
There was a baggage handler who saw me emerge. He looked surprised and said, “What in Scott’s name are you doing?”
You can read the full account at the link above, but after a night in jail, he was released by cops and will not face jail time as long as his behavior is good for the rest of the year. I tend to think the kid just wanted some attention.
One negative consequence of Ted’s decision was the loss of his job. He was a research assistant at Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions and specialized in human impatience. Oh the irony.