Security Badge Abuse at DFW Airport

Security Badge Abuse at DFW Airport

With airport security being such a serious issue, what good is a security badge allowing access to restricted areas if employees abuse their privileges by allowing family members and friends to access secure areas or to even skip checkpoints to board flights? Seems to me that is a major security breach that could lead to dangerous situations for all people in an airport environment.

NBC 5 dove into this issue by producing a segment (scroll down to see video) about the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by exposing government officials and top airline executives caught in the act of abusing their Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) badges. The rules of these badges are simple:

  • Badges can only be used by on-duty employees; and
  • Badge owners are not allowed to take anyone else through employee-only areas.

And, airport employees even sign a piece of paper indicating that they have read and understand the badge rules.

So, what happened?

Badge Seizure #1

An off-duty Continental Airlines worker, obviously anxious to get back home to Ohio, used his badge to allow his whole family, including himself, his wife and their two children, to board a van at a cargo facility and be driven across the airport ramp to terminal E. They would have made it too if a police officer hadn’t heard children laughing on the airport ramp. DFW police seized his security badge.

Badge Seizure #2

Fred Cleveland, a senior vice president and chief operating officer at American Eagle Airlines, was caught escorting his wife through the employee portal so they could welcome their daughter who was flying in. Receiving what I call a “slap-on-the-wrist,” Cleveland had to complete a badge re-training program before taking re-possession of his seized badge.

Badge Seizure #3

An off-duty American Airlines pilot, apparently decided to take a trip, but when he arrived at the airport and noticed the long lines at the checkpoints, he chose to use his badge to avoid the wait. His badge was seized.

Badge Seizure #4

An American Airlines flight attendant was caught sneaking a backpack through an employee entrance, giving it to her husband boarding a flight to Germany. Sarcastic tone, “Hmmm, not suspicious at all! I’m surprised she got caught!” Her badge was seized.

Badge Seizure #5

A TSA supervisor was caught by DFW police taking another worker through an employee door, obviously a place the worker shouldn’t have been, because the supervisor’s badge was seized.

Badge Seizure #6

A Federal Aviation Administration manager was caught using his badge to board a flight for personal reasons. Officers seized his badge.

Badge Seizure #7

An analyst working for the DFW airport board, the agency that actually issues the security badges, was caught escorting her husband through an employee door to board a flight. Police seized her badge.

In all seven of the above situations, I can think of at least five terrible events that could have transpired, resulting in injuries and deaths of a huge number of people. With the 9/11 tragedy, the Boston bombings, the Newtown incident, among many others, though not all directly related to an airport scenario, you would think that government officials and top airline executives would realize just how important security protocols are to the safety and security of everyone.

Larry Wansley, airport security consultant, sums it up nicely, “Sometimes, unfortunately, humans do some really stupid things.”

Check out NBC 5's exclusive about security badge abuse at DFW airport:

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