Justin Norris | Staff Writer
Nam Y. Huh | Associated Press
Frequent flyers and Atlanta residents are disturbed and alarmed that a passenger was able to board a plane with an undetected firearm in their carry-on. The incident occurred Jan. 2 on international flight DL295 to Tokyo Narita International Airport. According to WRDW, the incident first became known when the passenger arrived in Tokyo and discovered the forgotten gun in carry-on luggage. The passenger then voluntarily notified Delta Air Lines, who subsequently alerted TSA.
TSA confirmed the security blunder, telling CBS News, “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 January 2. TSA will hold those responsible appropriately accountable.”
TSA Administrator David Pekoske told CBS News that the agency is working to determine how the firearm went undetected through security.
“It happens because the technology doesn’t get everything all the time….either there’s a technology issue, there’s a procedural issue, or there’s a training issue,” Pekoske said. “I’m troubled by that, too. I think that everybody in TSA is troubled by it and mistakes happen…And I can’t give you an answer as to how often it happens. But when it does happen, we do everything we can to figure out why it happened.”
It is still unknown whether any action will be taken against the passenger.
TSA has stated the incident is unrelated to the government shutdown, which has been in effect since Dec. 22. TSA has reported that the same percent of workers who called in sick on the day of the incident, 5 percent, also called in sick Jan. 3.
However, many Americans have begun to speculate about TSA’s safety checks since the government shutdown began. Many worry the workers may not be taking enough care since they are working without pay. Among the skeptics, India Anderson, a senior journalism major from Atlanta, suggests this security breach would not have occurred if the government had not been shut down.
“Even if TSA employees were still reporting to work, I believe they were not being as vigilant as they would have been if they were getting paid,” Anderson said. “To me, this incident reminds me of the story where TSA officials were playing explicit rap music at JFK airport in Washington, D.C. One cannot expect humans to be as attentive as they otherwise would be if they were receiving a paycheck, making any activity that relies on the federal government unsafe.”
These sentiments were echoed by Ron Sanders, a junior chemical engineering major who is also from Atlanta.
“When I found out about this happening, especially with it occurring in my hometown, I was shocked,” Sanders said. “As the world’s busiest airport, this situation had the chance to endanger many people. I believe this is a repercussion of the government shutdown. … I flew out of Hartsfield Jackson International Airport just a few days later, and it is worrisome to think that I could have been in the airport during a similar situation if the problem was not resolved.”
The scariest aspect of the situation is that the mistake would have gone unnoticed if the passenger did not notify Delta Air Lines about the error. TSA will have its hands full to ensure that an incident like this does not occur again, especially with worker shortages.