Between forcing grandmothers to strip, to missing tons of loaded guns, and confiscating Buzz Lightyear toys, the TSA has not been having a banner year in the headlines. That trend continued on Thursday, when a story broke about how earlier in November, a convicted sex offender in Utah using a stolen boarding pass was able to pass through security and nearly made it on to the airplane.
Michael Salata, 61, was arrested on Nov. 5 after boarding the Southwest Airlines flight, according to jail records obtained Thursday.
He had grabbed a boarding pass that a woman accidently left at a check-in kiosk and used it to get through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, said Craig Vargo, chief of airport police.
"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," Vargo told the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper that first reported the story.
It's unclear why the incident was not disclosed by authorities until 20 days after it happened.
Salata was detained after the woman who had left the pass at the kiosk checked in using a replacement ticket that had been uploaded to her phone, Vargo said.
Despite the fact that there's effectively zero chance the name on the ticket was "Michael Salata" (considering it belonged to a woman), the TSA is saying that they didn't do anything else wrong as the man was properly screened and wasn't carrying anything dangerous. Which still isn't comforting--what is the point of having a "no-fly" list or other security measures if the TSA agent can't be bothered to see if the person holding the ticket has an ID that matches the name on the ticket? Salata shouldn't have even gotten to the part of the security process that involves an x-ray screening: he should have been stopped immediately when his name didn't match the one on the ticket. That is security 101.
It's also considerably weird that the incident wasn't reported for nearly three weeks after it occurred. What could they possibly have been waiting for? This is unacceptable.
As a reminder, the TSA has yet to stop a single terrorist.