NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There were major questions at John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday, after reports that several passengers got through security without being screened.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the Transportation Security Administration was on the hot seat over the security scare.
On Monday afternoon, JetBlue passenger lines at Terminal 5 at JFK were busy and fully manned by agents from the TSA. But that was not the case at 6 a.m. Monday, according to law enforcement sources who said a screening lane was open and active without a single TSA agent watching it.
“We rely on that to make sure our flight is safe; to make sure everyone on there is not a danger; doesn’t pose any danger and we can fly safely.” said Marianna Iannotta of East Meadow, Long Island. “So that’s a little scary.”
What is even more scary for travelers who heard the news is that sources said 11 people walked right through the checkpoint – and three of them set off the metal detector. There was no agent present to perform further screening to determine why, as CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“You only have to have one person do one bad thing and the whole system is – it’s a difficult job they have,” said JFK visitor Richard Truax.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said TSA officials waited until 8 a.m. before notifying them about the breach. By that time, all the unchecked passengers were presumed to have boarded their flights and taken off.
“This is a failure of supervision, of protocol on all parts,” said security expert Manny Gomez.
Gomez said the TSA made a critical mistake of not notifying the Port Authority immediately, causing the epic breach in security.
“After two hours, whoever went through and wasn’t screened was on their flights and off wherever they were going,” Gomez said. “It totally raises a red flag.”
It was unclear late Monday how long the security checkpoint was unmanned. After reviewing surveillance video, police flooded the terminal with photos trying to locate the passengers who bypassed security.
The Port Authority said they were able to determine the three passengers who set off the detector all boarded the same JetBlue flight to San Francisco, and were searched once they landed.
“You have so much security and nobody’s doing anything,” a traveler said.
“It’s scary it’s dangerous,” added another traveler, Anu Joseph. “In today’s time, that’s really dangerous.”
“That’s scary. I think they should be on duty at all times,” one man named David who was traveling from Rochester told 1010 WINS’ Andrew Falzon.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police are working with federal authorities to identify the eight other passengers who boarded other various flights. The TSA said it is reviewing what happened and will be retraining and disciplining employees as they see fit.