A man managed to slip past TSA agents using a stolen boarding pass. The registered sex offender managed to move through security using a woman’s boarding pass but did not raise any alarms until after he had checked into a flight.
Authorities confirmed a man, using a stolen boarding pass, managed to get past airport security in Salt Lake City and was able to check into a flight at the gate. Fortunately, he was apprehended before the flight could take off. According to Utah police, the man who used a stolen boarding pass is a registered sex offender. He attempted to get on a flight heading to Oakland, California, but due to multi-tiered checkpoints, he has caught before takeoff, reported the Blaze.
The man who managed to give TSA agents a slip using a woman’s boarding pass has been identified as Michael Reith Salata. The 61-year-old man succeeded in boarding a Southwest Airlines flight, according to jail records, reported ABC News. Apparently, he managed to get his hands on a boarding pass that a woman had inadvertently left behind at the check-in kiosk.
Using the stolen boarding pass, he managed to get past Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint, one of the foremost frontline defenses of any American airport. It is not known what Salata was doing at the airport, as he didn’t have any tickets or indicate that he had arrived at the airport with any travel plans.
Speaking about the serious lapse in security, Craig Vargo, chief of airport police, said, “He tried to make it seem like it was a mistake, that the boarding pass printed incorrectly, or that he grabbed the wrong boarding pass.”
TSA spokeswoman Lori Dankers admitted that there was a lapse in security but confirmed that apart from the identification mistake, Salata was thoroughly screened and was confirmed not to possess any harmful substances or weapons.
“We are aware of the incident…. Our TSA agent made a mistake to properly identify the individual. However, there are multiple layers of security in place…. Both the ticketed passenger and the other individual were fully screened.”
Salata had almost managed to fly with the stolen boarding pass, as he had successfully checked into the flight that was headed to California. But his plans were foiled because of the woman whose boarding pass Salata had stolen. The mistake surfaced when the woman, who had misplaced her boarding pass, was able to get on the plane using a replacement ticket uploaded on her phone, reported the Spreadit.
Airport authorities, who later cued up the surveillance footage, realized that the woman was standing a few feet behind the man who was using her boarding pass. Both were standing in the queue to board the plane, oblivious to each other’s presence. Since Salata was ahead of the woman, he managed to get himself checked in and proceeded to board the plane. However, once the woman showed the exact same boarding pass, airline staff realized there was an imposter, and Salata was quickly apprehended.
What’s concerning, besides the fact that a man managed to slip past TSA using a woman’s boarding pass, is that the incident happened more than 10 days ago on November 5. It is unclear why the incident remained undisclosed for 20 days. The news surfaced during one of the busiest travel days when about 25 million people are expected to travel primarily by air. With the recent wave of terrorist attacks abroad as well as terror groups threatening attacks on American soil, it is certainly unnerving to hear about such lapses in security.
Airlines rely on TSA to verify boarding passes and identification. However, it was the Southwest Airlines’ systems that worked as intended by raising a red flag indicating a stolen boarding pass was used and helped in identifying a passenger who didn’t belong on the flight.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]