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Workers Charge JFK Airport Security Inspections Often Rushed, Incomplete

Say They Don't Have Resources To Adequately Screen Planes Before Boarding
A JetBlue plane is seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport (file/photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

A JetBlue plane is seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport (file/photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Guns, explosives, box cutters, none of them should make it onto a commercial airplane.

But security agents at John F. Kennedy International airport say they could be.

The agents are claiming the Transportation Security Administration and airlines are rushing them through crucial inspections, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.

It’s something a lot of passengers don’t even think about: The security checks that happen on-board, before you board.

They’re supposed to be thorough, every single seat, row by row. But now, employees from one security company at JFK Airport have filed a complaint with the TSA, sounding the alarm that they aren’t given the time, manpower or equipment to do the checks to keep passengers safe.

“What I want is more safety to these passengers who have to fly these planes,” concerned employee Loretta Young said.

Young  is part of the last line of defense, before hundreds of passengers step onto planes headed overseas.

She and her co-workers are in charge of checking entire aircraft for explosives, weapons and anything that might pose real danger in the sky.

But, she said, they’re constantly being stymied by faulty equipment and rushed by airlines anxious to take off.

“I say to myself, ‘We didn’t properly search this plane. We did it too quick,’” Young said.

Young said there are times her team of just three people is expected to thoroughly inspect nearly 500-seat jumbo jets in mere minutes.

“They come on, ‘You gotta hurry up, you gotta hurry up,’ and it’s just not right,” Young said.

Airline security expert Isaac Yeffet said it’s nothing new, and security needs to be stepped up.

“We, unfortunately, rely on luck and God, not in great security that we need,” Yeffet said.

The company contracted to perform these security checks is called Global Elite. It rejected the allegations, and released the following statement:

“False comments made by a small amount of employees are part of a larger ploy by the service workers’ union to generate public and governmental support for its efforts to unionize our employees. Global Elite Group would never encourage or condone any of our employees to rush through any of their security duties.”

Nonetheless, airline passengers at JFK said they are concerned by the claims.

“It does worry me. They care more about the service or the company than they do about the people,” traveler Jonathan Jayaraj said.

Young said she hopes the TSA listens to her and her co-workers, before one of the lax security checks ends in disaster.

“If something happens to that plane when it goes out, I would have a conscience because kids are on that plane. I have two kids. I have grandkids,” Young said.

The TSA said it has not yet received the complaint, but that it could prompt an investigation, fines, or even result in an order to the airline to terminate its contract with that security company.

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