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9-year-old Lakewood runaway hits the big time

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Jan. 23, 2007 at 1:58 pm with No Comments »
January 23, 2007 1:58 pm

That is if you consider “Inside Edition” “the big time.”

The show announced Tuesday that it will air Wednesday its “exclusive” interview with Semaj Booker, “the nine-year-old Seattle resident who ran away from home and breached airline security when he flew cross-country on a Southwest Airlines plane without a reservation.”

That should be Lakewood resident but who cares about accuracy when you have the big exclusive.

Semaj, you will recall, gained notoriety last week after stealing a car and eluding Lakewood police on a high-speed pursuit. The next morning, he flew – without a reservation – from Sea-Tac International Airport to Phoenix and until to San Antonio, where the ruse was up and he was taken into custody.

The case has raised concerns nationwide about airport security, with everyone asking how he got aboard the flights.

“I planned it all out in advance,” Semaj told Inside Edition.

He took a bus to the airport and then scanned the monitors, according to a press release. He found Southwest Airlines had the most flights to Texas.

The press release goes on to say:

Booker says he then got lucky when he heard Southwest Airlines page a passenger who had lost his ticket.

“They (Southwest Airlines) said, ‘Frank please come to the Southwest Ticket Counter.'”

Booker says he walked up to the counter and identified himself as Frank, at which time the airline gave him the boarding pass.

Bypassing the security checkpoint, which doesn’t require children to show I.D., was easy for Booker who says, “They just said take off your shoes and your jacket. I just went through. They said clear, they gave me my shoes and jacket and I went to the airplane.”

No word yet on how much Inside Edition paid for the interviews.

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