Woman Says Airport Guard Asked Her What a Baggie of White Powder Was Doing in Her Bag
By EMILY FRIEDMAN
College student Rebecca Solomon never expected to become the target of a prank orchestrated by a TSA employee.
But that’s exactly what happened when a Transportation Security Administration agent at a checkpoint at the Philadelphia International Airport held a small baggie of white powder up to the shocked 22-year-old student and asked her, “Where did you get this from?”
Solomon, who wrote an editorial in The Michigan Daily, her college’s student newspaper, detailing the incident, said that she was the “epitome of compliance” and was an “expert traveler” thanks to her frequent trips between Ann Arbor and Philadelphia, which is why she was so surprised at the sight of the baggie she swore wasn’t hers.
Her first thought when she saw the baggie, Solomon wrote, was that she had left her bag on the ground when she was looking for her license to show another security guard. She figured that “terrorists slipped bomb-detonating powder into my bag.
“I immediately told him I had no idea where the bag came from, and that I hadn’t left my bags unattended — a cardinal sin in airport security,” wrote Solomon, who didn’t return messages left by ABCNews.com.
“He let me stutter through an explanation for the longest minute of my life. Tears streamed down my face as I pleaded with him to understand that I’d never seen this baggie before,” said Solomon.
But then, according to Solomon, the TSA employee began to smile and told her that the whole thing had been a joke — he was “just kidding.”
The prank prompted Solomon to ask for a supervisor, who immediately removed the employee from the floor.
The TSA released the following statement regarding Solomon’s incident to ABCNews.com: “The behavior exhibited by this TSA employee was highly inappropriate and unprofessional.
“TSA can assure travelers that disciplinary action was taken by TSA management at Philadelphia International Airport, and the employee expressed remorse for his actions,” read the statement. “This individual is no longer employed by TSA. ”
Was An 8-Year-Old on the TSA’s No-Fly List?
But this isn’t the first faux pas by the TSA to make headlines in recent weeks.
The story of an 8-year-old boy who is frisked profusely every time he steps foot in the airport was first reported by The New York Times, and highlights an entirely different issue that even the TSA says they’re working to fix.
Mikey Hicks’ mother, Najlah Hicks, told ABCNews.com that her son has been patted down ever since he started flying.
“He was a little over 2 years when he first went through airport security,” said Hicks of her son. “They were not overly aggressive, but they certainly frisked him up his legs and arms and stomach and back.”
“[My husband and I] were amused at first, we kept saying to ourselves that they look like a bunch of bumbling idiots,” she said. “Why are they frisking a little 8-year-old?”
The Hicks first thought their son was on the TSA’s “no-fly list,” a program implemented to ensure terrorists don’t board plans, but later found out that wasn’t so.
According to the TSA, Mikey was the victim of misidentification that the family is currently working to fix.
“The TSA can confirm there are no 8-year-olds on the no fly or selectee list,” said a statement issued to ABCNews.com.
A new program, known as Secure Flight, is currently being rolled out by the TSA on domestic flights. It will match passenger information — including gender and date of birth — with government-maintained watch lists.
This way, an 8-year-old won’t be confused with a person who might have a legitimate reason to be on the watch list, according to the TSA.
“Initial estimates indicate that under Secure Flight, in excess of 99 percent of passengers who provided the additional data elements will be able to use Internet check-in and experience no delays in obtaining their boarding passes,” said the statement.
Transportation Security Administration Frisks an 8-Year-Old
As for Mikey and his mom, they both hope they see the change next month when they go to the airport on their next trip.
“My son keeps asking me, ‘Hey, Mom, why would they think a kid is a terrorist?'” said Hicks.
“Next time we fly we hope we can go right through and not be patted down like that again,” she said.
“I understand the need for security. I know there are crazy people who want to blow us up — but obviously the system is broken. How can you respect the list when you have children on the list?”