Security breach allows wrong traveler through TSA

November 11, 2013 (CHICAGO)

We know the question: how does this happen? A traveler is mistakenly given the wrong boarding pass, a pass in someone's else's name.

You would think, and hope, that the traveler would be stopped at the very first TSA checkpoint where a federal officer matches your ID and your boarding pass.

That did not happen Sunday, according to American Airlines and according to the Chicago business traveler whose boarding pass was given to someone else.

"He goes to look at my flight, and he goes, Mr. Gertz, your flight is gone, you've taken off," Brad Gertz said.

The Des Plaines resident had not taken off.

Both of his feet were planted at the ticket counter in Philadelphia Sunday morning when an American Airlines agent told him that his boarding pass had been issued to somebody else.

"I say, 'This is my ID, this is me,'" he said.

An American Airlines official Monday night says one of their ticketing employees inadvertently gave Gertz' boarding pass to someone with a similar name.

That person, somehow, managed to proceed through the TSA identification checkpoint where all passengers are required to show their boarding pass and an identically matching official ID, such as a driver's license or passport.

"Now, 'Brad Gertz' is in the airport," the real Brad Gertz said. "God knows what this person could have done, could have brought through, but now my name's connected to it. Someone got through security as me and that's the part that really bothers me too. That person should not have been let through, sent back to the ticketing agent. Honest mistake, it would have gotten taken care of."

A spokesperson for American Airlines says one of their gate agents caught the mistake before the person boarded. But airline computers apparently still showed it was Gertz on the Chicago-bound flight.

"There's no excuse, for the amount of money that we pay as taxpayers, that the government pays for airport security which now is at an extremely high point and it has been for the past few years," Gertz said. "Security-wise, this is huge and this is something that can't be missed."

American Airlines executives say they have spoken to Gertz, apologized for what happened and offered him a travel voucher as a "gesture of goodwill."

On Monday night this statement concerning the incident was provided by TSA to our sister station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia:

"TSA is reviewing allegations that document verification procedures were not followed properly at Philadelphia International Airport. Passengers are subject to a robust security system that employs multiple layers, including watch list matching, thorough screening at the checkpoint, Federal Air Marshals, armed pilots and a vigilant public, as well as many others, both seen and unseen."

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