State News

TSA Can't Find Man Who Bypassed Airport Security in Charlotte

Posted August 10, 2007 9:45 a.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2007 7:10 p.m. EDT

— Transportation officials searched planes in Charlotte and at 15 other airports on Friday but failed to find a man they said bypassed security at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration noticed shortly before 8 a.m. that the man had slipped past screeners sometime earlier that morning, said agency spokesman Jon Allen. Officials halted flights, shut down a concourse and searched several planes in an effort to find him.

When he couldn't be located in Charlotte, officials turned their attention to 15 flights that had left the airport after the incident took place, said TSA spokesman Chris White. Passengers on those planes were reverse-screened or escorted out of the airport's secure areas.

"Our priority is to ensure that Charlotte and the other airports where aircraft landed are secure," White said. "We need to make sure the entire system is secure."

White said the planes were headed for La Guardia in New York; Baltimore; Windsor Locks, Connecticut; Dallas-Fort Worth; Jacksonville, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Indianapolis; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Los Angeles; Boston; San Diego; Philadelphia; St. Louis; and Washington.

Officials said it was too early to determine whether there was malicious intent or whether the passenger was confused by the screening process.

"We will look into how this incident occurred and what we can do to ensure that it does not happen again," White said.

White said late Friday afternoon the TSA is no longer searching for the man and speculated he may have simply walked out of the Charlotte airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration shut down all outbound flights from Charlotte for about an hour beginning shortly after 8 a.m., said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the agency in Atlanta.

Some planes were held on the tarmac but later cleared to leave, while others were directed to return to the gate, she said.

The airport experienced delays of up to an hour, but Bergen said airport operations returned to normal later Friday morning.