TSA Agent Pulls Practical Joke on Unsuspecting Passenger
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, 22-year-old University of Michigan student, Rebecca Solomon, was traveling back to school after a holiday break on January 5th, when she had an alarming encounter with a TSA agent at the Philadelphia International Airport.
Solomon readied her laptop for the security scanners, walked through the detector without any problems, and began to collect her things when she noticed a TSA worker was staring at her. The agent motioned for her to come over, and she obeyed.
"Where did you get it?" the agent said, dangling a small, clear plastic bag that she saw him remove from her carry-on luggage. The bag was filled with a fine, white powder.
Immediately, Solomon became upset. The plastic bag, and its contents, didn't belong to her. Worried that she was the victim of a terrorist or drug dealer, she began to panic, fighting back tears.
The agent continued to question Solomon, telling her to answer truthfully, and everything will be OK. Solomon struggled with the ordeal for twenty seconds, before the TSA agent broke his stare and began to smile. The agent admitted the bag was his and that he was just joking.
"It was such a violation," Solomon told the Inquirer. "I'd come early. I'd done everything right. And they were kidding about it."
A stunned Solomon gathered her things and began to cry while another passenger tried to console her. Both Solomon and the other passenger walked to their respective gates, where they each called security to report the incident.
The happening occurred only 10 days after the attempted Christmas Day bombing, and the airport, and passengers, were noticeably tense. Additionally, Solomon was scheduled to fly to Detroit via Northwest Airlines, mirroring the destination and carrier involved in the attempted bombing.
When Solomon spoke to security, she was told that the TSA worker had been training other staff members to detect contraband, and that he would not be immediately removed from the floor.
Regional TSA spokeswoman, Ann Davis, told the Inquirer, "The TSA views this employee's behavior to be highly inappropriate and unprofessional. We can assure travelers this employee has been disciplined by TSA management at Philadelphia International Airport, and he has expressed remorse for his actions."
More recently, Davis told the Inquirer that as of January 21st, the TSA worker is no longer employed by the agency. Privacy laws protect his name from being released.
The incident marks the second time in less than a month where negative attention has been brought to the Philadelphia International Airport.
On January 5th, the NAACP sued US Airways, accusing the airline of discriminating against African American employees in the Philadelphia airport. The case, which was brought forward by the NAACP, along with three former airline workers, alleges that African American employees in the airport were assigned less desirable gates and shifts, which were referred to with racially loaded nicknames like "The Ghetto" and "Compton."