National Security

Lawyer Catches ID Mixup Missed by 'Incredibly Bored' Screener at LaGuardia


Although a screener apparently failed to spot the mismatch between a boarding pass and the identification presented by a man who was allowed to board a commercial jetliner and depart from a New York City airport last week, a personal injury lawyer could hardly miss it.

That’s because the man who claimed to have been assigned the same JetBlue seat as attorney Jason Paris of Westchester on the May 13 flight from LaGuardia Airport showed Paris a boarding pass identical to his own. Paris said the stranger looked nothing like him, reports NBC New York, and personnel who came to straighten out the situation never asked to see either the stranger’s passport or his own driver’s license.

JetBlue acknowledged the incident and an internal investigation in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration is proceeding.

“That obviously means whoever was doing the document check that day did not really look at the license and look at the name,” Michael Balboni tells NBC. He formerly served as New York’s deputy secretary of public safety.

While the TSA does a good job overall, human error is inevitable, he states: “Given the fact that this system is made up of individuals who try their best but can be incredibly bored with their job, you can expect this to happen sometimes.”

Paris, who was traveling with his law partner on the flight, gives further details of the incident in a guest post on the New York Personal Injury Law Blog:

Even after it was clear that the stranger was holding a boarding pass in someone else’s name, “no one asked him any questions or asked to see his ID, no one asked to see my ID,” Paris writes. “And when I started asking what’s going on and asking how it’s possible that this happened, and when my law partner started saying it was a security breach—the gate agent and flight attendant gave us dirty looks and made us feel as if we said anything that they would kick us off the plane.”

The TSA said both men had been thoroughly screened, so it was clear they weren’t bringing anything dangerous onto the plane, NBC New York reported.

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