Report details how woman without ticket boarded Delta flight

Author: The Associated Press
FILE – In this Jan. 30, 2017, file photo, a Delta Air Lines flight takes off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

A woman without a ticket or government-issued ID walked past a Transportation Security Administration agent and entered a terminal at Orlando International Airport in October by blending in with a group of people, a report said.

She then boarded a Delta flight bound for Atlanta by pretending to be a wheelchair passenger, according to a TSA report.

The Orlando Sentinel reported the plane had departed the gate and was on the tarmac before employees realized the woman had slipped past them. The agency released the 30-page report after initially denying the Sentinel’s request for documents.

The names of the people involved in the incident were redacted from the report. Surveillance videos that show the woman slipping past security and getting on the plane were also withheld under a national security exemption, the newspaper reported.

That morning, the woman presented a JetBlue baggage receipt to a TSA agent checking boarding passes and IDs at the east terminal entrance. The agent told her she needed to go to the JetBlue desk in another terminal to receive her ticket, the report said.

She returned 30 minutes later and skirted around two families who were showing their documents to agents, the report said. She passed through the x-ray machine went to Gate 71, where people gathered to board the Atlanta-bound flight.

She lined up with wheelchair passengers during the pre-boarding process and went around them when the gate agent scanned their boarding passes. She entered the jet bridge and a gate agent asked if she’d been scanned, the report said.

“I assumed she was with the wheelchair passenger and then allowed her to board,” the gate agent told investigators.

She selected a seat on the plane and was later confronted by a passenger with a ticket for that seat. She refused to show a boarding pass, claiming she threw it away after getting on the plane, the report said.

The plane returned to the gate, the passengers were removed and re-screened.

When questioned by TSA officials and Orlando police officers, she showed them a selfie on her cellphone that she said she used for an ID, the report said.

“That’s my face,” the woman told them. “Can you make that out?”

She was escorted out of the terminal. A few days later, authorities identified her through facial-recognition software. The report said she has a history of mental health issues.

The FBI declined to press charges.

The TSA said in a statement that no employees were disciplined, but they underwent additional training.

Delta didn’t comment on the report, but previously said it submitted its investigative report on the incident to authorities.

In December, the TSA sent the woman a letter saying she was being issued a “warning notice,” which goes on her record in case she tries to do something similar again, the newspaper reported.

In a handwritten response, the woman claimed she bought a ticket and boarded the plane.

“I am so sorry,” she wrote. “I don’t know (what) else to say but don’t blame me everything falls on your … security.”

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