Last month I flew to Las Vegas, Nevada to attend a writing workshop. This necessitated some preparation, as I got ready to brave the experience known as airport security.

Let me hasten to say I understand the need for airport security. Yes, it is time consuming. Yes, it is inconvenient. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable. But I realize that the intentions are good, so I put up with it.

This doesn’t mean I won’t snark about it just a little bit.

So, armed with my proper driver’s license and both an electronic and paper boarding pass, I arrived at the security line in the A terminal at Tampa International, grateful that it wasn’t longer.

At the appropriate time, I showed my driver’s license (which doesn’t show me at my best) and my boarding pass to the security person I had to pass in order to get to my plane. My documents were duly examined, and I was cleared to have my carry-ons and body checked to be sure I was not a danger.

When my boarding group was called, I had to once again show my boarding pass to someone before I could get on the plane. This was not optional. What I did with the pass afterwards was my business — I think I shoved it into my waist pack to get it out of my hands.

Once on the plane, I made my way to my assigned seat (out of three flights, I had the misfortune of getting the center seat in the row twice – not fun) and got myself settled. I had passed through the hoops the TSA has set up for passengers, and I was good to go.

Note that I had to show documentation at least twice to get on the plane. I’m not even mentioning when I first arrived at the airport to check a bag, then had to show a boarding pass to get on the tram to the gates.

I bring all this up not to bore you, but to demonstrate that there is a process in place to make sure you are supposed to get on a plane. Which makes the following story extremely puzzling, if not alarming.

According to a news story I found on several websites on my phone, including Fox News and NBC, a woman boarding a Delta flight in Orlando discovered someone in her seat. Further investigation turned up that the seated person, later identified as Sylvia Rictor, was not on the flight manifest.

Rector was asked to provide a boarding pass. She claimed that she’d thrown it out once she’d gotten on the plane. When asked for ID, she showed a selfie on her phone, claiming it just as good as a real ID.

In vain a flight attendant and a supervisor tried to remove Rictor, who stubbornly stayed put until the police showed up. She was apparently escorted off airport property, and after everyone else on the flight was rescreened, the flight left for Atlanta nearly three hours late.

According to what I read, the TSA says Rictor was “screened,” but that’s all they’re saying. The matter is under investigation, with the FBI lending a hand.

The writer and flyer in me are bursting with questions. Look, I flew not that long ago – there’s no place I can think of that Rictor could’ve thrown away a boarding pass. And how did she get past security without an ID? How did she pull this off?

I’m sure the FBI and law enforcement have similar questions. But I doubt they’ll share the answers. Let’s hope this is some minor thing they can fix so that it doesn’t happen again.

But kids, trust me: do not try this. One thing I’m certain about is that the TSA has no sense of humor when it comes to things like this. And no one will thank you for delaying their flight because you tried to be cute. Seriously. Trust me.


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