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Youth embarrass airline industry for safety gaffs

Parents have enough things to worry about. They shouldn’t have to fret about whether their kids are hopping on a plane to parts unknown.

Yet that’s just what three Florida youngsters did earlier this month, and they had surprisingly little trouble doing so.

Bridget Brown, a 15-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., girl, wanted to go to the Dollywood theme park in Tennessee, so she, her brother Kodie, 11, and friend Bobby Nolan III, 13, jumped in a taxi for the airport. They plunked down cash — baby-sitting money Bridget had saved up — for three tickets to Nashville, strolled through security and flew about 500 miles, apparently without so much as a sideways glance from anyone. …

The Transportation Security Administration does not require anyone younger than 18 to show any identification. … But somebody accompanying a young air traveler, such as a parent, should have ID and should be required to show it. … At the very least, a parent or guardian with a valid ID should have to escort a youngster to the point where TSA officials check boarding passes against ID cards.

In this case, the three children appeared to have innocent motives. … But it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where a teenager boards a plane to run away from home, to make mischief or even to do others harm. …

These children may have done Americans a favor by exposing a huge hole in the nation’s security net.

The Columbus Dispatch