The United States spends millions of dollars every year to ensure that airport security is air tight after 9/11. But a cheap bribe was all it took to undermine all the body scanners and metal detectors. It took just $100 for a JetBlue ticket agent to allow an unknown package be carried onto a flight, coming from an unknown person.
Fortunately, the scenario was a controlled experiment and not a real emergency. Still, the implications of such lapses in security are clear.
On November 19, the Transportation Security Administration was testing JetBlue's security at Charlotte Douglas Airport when an undercover TSA agent offered to bribe a JetBlue ticket agent to allow a package on board a flight bound for Boston in exchange for $100. According to Seattle PI, the ticket agent took the $100 bribe, placing the money in his pocket and proceeded to assign the package to a random passenger on the plane.
"That's really alarming," Anthony Amore, a former high-ranking TSA official at Logan Airport told a local Boston CBS station. "When you have multiple layers in place you hope that they all stand in the way of a terrorist or someone who wishes us harm. In this instance, many of the layers were cast aside and we were left with this one layer of checked baggage screening."
When the local station asked the TSA for a comment, they were told, "While we cannot comment on the specifics of an open investigation, TSA can assure travelers that, like checked baggage, every package tendered at the airline counter is screened for explosives." JetBlue confirmed that they are "fully cooperating with the TSA's investigation" and "the involved crew member is no longer employed at JetBlue."
JetBlue has reportedly fired the ticket agent in question, but concerns still remain. Just days earlier at the same airport, a teenager was able to sneak into the airport's secured area and illegally boarded a US Airways flight. Additionally, a commercial pilot faced backlash last month after he used his position to point out security loopholes in a cell phone-captured YouTube video.