Most of us are familiar with the rigorous standards at every airport security checkpoint. Supposedly, it's impossible to get anything through security that the TSA agents don't allow. Naturally, this includes firearms or weapons of any kind. And that's a good thing; we want to be as safe as possible when we're flying.
But a new story has called TSA security into question. That's because recently, someone was able to bring a gun through security and onto an airplane. And Delta airlines reported the gaffe to the TSA after landing in Tokyo, Japan. But how did this happen in the first place? Read up on the whole story, and what people are saying about it now!
So, the TSA had a breach of security.And this didn't just happen yesterday – it was back on January 3rd, right as the new year began.
We all know the rules.Liquids and aerosols are allowed in restricted amounts, absolutely no explosives (i.e. fireworks), firearms may only be transported in checked baggage, and we have to take our shoes off when we go through security.
There are more rules, but that's the gist.Note in particular the "firearms may only be in checked baggage" part, because that's exactly what didn't happen on January 3rd.
Someone actually walked through security with a gun.Somehow, a passenger passed through security and boarded a Delta Airlines flight to Tokyo, Japan with a gun in their carry-on luggage.
The plane got all the way to Japan.Which means there was an unchecked firearm on a 14-hour international flight. Yikes!
So how did this happen?The TSA released a statement after the event. "TSA has determined standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did, in fact, pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on the morning of January 3rd," the statement reads.
Delta Airlines also issued a statement.In a statement to CNN, Delta said that "upon the customer's disclosure, the airline reported the incident to the TSA."
Many are blaming the government shutdown as the cause of this mishap.The incident occurred about two weeks after the government shutdown began in late December of 2018.
In case you're unsure of what the shutdown has to do with this:Basically, lawmakers had a deadline of midnight on Dec. 21, 2018, to pass several pieces of federal budget legislation. When they failed to meet the deadline, the government went into partial shutdown.
And that puts TSA agents in an unfortunate position.Because they still have to work – we can't just abandon airport safety, after all – but they're not being paid.
And many TSA agents are rightfully frustrated by that.January 11th marked the first time TSA (and other federal employees) lost a paycheck to the government because of the shutdown. And some TSA agents are refusing to work through it.
Miami airport has shut down a terminal.On January 12th, Miami International Airport announced it was temporarily closing one of its terminals, to accommodate the shortage of workers.
You might think "they aren't being paid either way, so they might as well work."But, when you factor in things like childcare costs, it's actually costing some agents more money to go to work, at a time when they're not receiving any income. That makes things difficult.
So there have been a lot of sick days.CNN reported that on January 4th (the day after the security breach), hundreds of agents from four major airports had called in sick to work.
Despite all that, the TSA claims that this breach wasn't caused by the shutdown.The TSA has reported that there were a normal number of staffers on hand at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that day and that the breach had nothing to do with the government shutdown.
The TSA took to Twitter."The perception that this might have occurred as a result of the partial government shutdown would be false," the TSA said on Twitter.
Apparently, more people turned up for work than last year."The perception that this might have occurred as a result of the partial government shutdown would be false," TSA said. "The national unscheduled absence rate of TSA staff on Thursday, Jan. 3rd, 2019, was 4.8 percent compared to 6.3 percent last year, Thursday, Jan. 4th, 2018. So in fact, the national call-out rate was higher a year ago than this year on that date."
Particularly the TSA's PR specialist.
This morning, TSA experienced a national rate of 5.6 percent unscheduled absences compared to a 3.3 percent rate on… https://t.co/ESsERXwAxe— Michael Bilello (@Michael Bilello)1547308773.0
He's quite adamant.
Security standards have NOT and will NOT be compromised. TSA has and will continue to maintain security standards a… https://t.co/kucf8Yk9e4— Michael Bilello (@Michael Bilello)1547219707.0
But it still isn't business as usual.
TSA officers continue to perform the important mission of securing the nation’s transportation systems with profess… https://t.co/bbmLKt1qDV— Michael Bilello (@Michael Bilello)1547308807.0