A ramp worker at Pittsburgh International Airport is being investigated by the Transportation Security Administration for allegedly bypassing normal security checks before attempting to board a flight. While no one believes that the woman posed a security risk, she still could be fined by TSA after it completes its investigation.
The federal agency, which is in charge of airport security nationwide, claims that the worker used her employee access card and security code to ride an elevator in a restricted part of the airport on Sep. 23. Another employee saw her riding in the elevator and reported her to TSA personnel.
The issue appears to be whether the worker was on duty when she rode in the elevator, which allows employees to bypass regular security checkpoints. The witness told TSA that the woman was wearing street clothes and was carrying a boarding pass and carry-on bag.
A spokesman for American Eagle Airlines, the accused woman's employer, said that if the woman attempted to get around a security screening for passengers, it was "an oversight" rather than an action with "ill intent." Still, TSA appears ready to throw the book at her. A spokeswoman for the agency said TSA would "take appropriate action" if it found the woman violated federal laws. Though incarceration does not appear to be a possibility, TSA could fine the worker and American Eagle.
According to a former TSA director, the use of employee credentials to avoid normal security procedures may be common. He said that while all airline passengers should follow the same rules, the accused woman was not a security threat.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune, "Airline worker may have tried to slip security at Pittsburgh airport," Tom Fontaine, Sep. 25, 2012
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