Note the question mark–when I first head about the story, I rolled my eyes and commented, “The TSA did it again,” but there is a question as to who was at fault.
A Littleton woman said she missed her flight because the Transportation Security Administration didn’t have any female screeners at the airport.
At the tiny Rock Springs, Wyo. Airport, the motto is “It’s easy to fly,” which is why Jennifer Winning is a regular.”In the last five months, I’ve flown out of there five or six times,” said Winning, a former flight attendant who said she often goes through security just a few minutes before flights because it’s such a small airport.
But on Jan. 29, after Winning checked in for her flight, she got an e-mail that it was delayed. So, she went outside the airport to watch the plane she was about to board land.
When she went back in though, the security door was locked.
A Transportation Security Administration agent informed her that the only female screener had been let off to avoid paying her overtime.
Sounds horrible, but something doesn’t quite add up. Was the woman not even allowed to go through the metal detector? A female agent would not be necessary if she did not set it off.
“I offered to sign a waiver to let a male screener check me, but they wouldn’t do it,” Winning said. “I asked, ‘If I was a man I could get on [the plane], but because I’m a woman I can’t?’ And he said, ‘Yes, that’s correct.’”
A TSA spokeswoman issued a statement to 7NEWS saying there had been several final boarding announcements, and that the reason Winning wasn’t allowed through security was actually because she was too late and “the airline was no longer accepting passengers for the flight.”
What exactly does that mean? If the flight was closed, then I will hold back some scorn for the TSA, but Winning claims “she watched out the window as passengers boarded her flight and the plane took off.” I have to think that is the case. If Winning is a former FA, she was likely used to being able to breeze through security a few minutes before takeoff and would not have been so stupid to miss her flight.
Her plight shows that you never know how long a delay will be and it is best to remain in the gate area if possible. It reminds me of my last US Airways flight from Columbia, SC to Philadelphia, where after a three-hour mechanical delay, I arrived at the airport about 20 minutes prior to departure and found the TSA checkpoint closed. Thankfully, a couple of them were still chatting and booted up the equipment to screen me, but I receive a little lecture about arriving earlier next time.
But even at small stations, you never know what will happen in terms of delays, so keeping the security checkpoint open until the flight departs makes a lot of sense to me. I am not aware of any TSA rules mandating that women be screened by women or men by men if they opt out (though I know that is the conventional practice). It seems to me in cases like this one exceptions can be made–there is no need to be prudish when it means missing a flight.
She had to rent a car and drive the six hours to Denver.