Badges? Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Security

What I’ve seen get the most attention is that the Chief Operating Officer of American’s regional carrier, American Eagle, used his security badge to bring his wife airside at DFW airport. This was apparently one of about 140 such violations by a variety of individuals at the airport over the past two years.

But what the rest of the reporting uncovers seems far more shocking to me.

DFW police caught a TSA supervisor taking another worker through an employee door.

Officers seized a badge from a Federal Aviation Administration manager caught using it to board a flight for personal reasons.

And police even stopped an analyst who works for the DFW airport board, the agency that issues the security badges, as she escorted her husband through an employee door to board a flight.

“The vast majority of people working at the airport understand and follow the rules without any problem,” Magana said.

Yes – as they say, a few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA and other agencies do to keep us safe, day in and day out.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. The DFW spokesperson said, “sometimes, unfortunately, humans do some really stupid things.” Ya, like inventing and funding the TSA. Instead, put airlines or airports in charge of security. That way, improved security processes can be used as a competitive advantage, and the free-market will determine what is appropriate security.

  2. Airlines in charge of security. Hmmm. Yeah right…that is their expertise. They can’t even take care of my bag.

  3. Oh that TSA Hokey Pokey video laid me in the aisle……..
    After watching the TSA video a Presidential epiphany might be to boost airport spending by buying machines to replace those rocket scientists that are posing as security and putting a drag on our economy……..I am certain machines can be programmed to be smarter than the TSA and would be “business friendly”………….
    Did you see that LA council approved $5 billion airport modernization plan today to “compete” for international air traffic and boost their Olympic bid……….

  4. The dumb part of the Eagle guy is he could have gotten a gate pass and brought her through properly and added maybe 10 minutes to his day….its sad

  5. The airlines may not “take care of your bag” but the TSA steals from your bag and still does nothing to enhance security.

  6. @Chris M. I really don’t trust the free market to determine the appropriate level of security. What if one such free market airport determines to use only certain type of bag scanners because they are cheaper. And what if the scanners are cheaper because they don’t see through bags as well, and thus the free market airport security “misses” things. They might miss innocuous things, or they might miss dangerous weapons or explosives.

    If the government sets a minimum threshold for airport security requirements, then perhaps the free market could come in, but not before then, and not without constant audits.

  7. @Dave Not at all. We are all now Deputy sky marshals who must respond when the next shoe bomber does his thing…….the random nature of life…’s just that simple…..I truly believe we’d be a hella lot safer to replace TSA with machines……..

  8. I do not envy the job the TSA is tasked with administering, but by and large, the implementation is a joke and is a waste of time. I am sure we could come up with much smoother, less time consuming security procedures. Following the procedures currently in place should probably be step 1 however.

  9. i have an airport badge because i work at the airport and i use it to go through security.

  10. Why is the COO of American Eagle getting re-trained? Why is he not being terminated, as all of these people should be, on the spot?

  11. “DFW” – the proximate cause of the weakness lies in the first letter.

  12. Other countries that don’t have massively bloated agencies like the TSA seem to be doing a fine job with security, and they don’t require travelers to remove their shoes or other articles of clothing. I can’t bring finger nail clippers on a plane yet premium cabins get forks and metal knives. Or I can bring 3 3oz bottles but 1 9oz bottle is dangerous. Where’s the logic in that?

  13. @Nic The government security at Athens International Airport is notoriously slack. Guards go on smoking breaks and leave their post unsupervised etc. So British Air runs their own security there, for their own flights. I’ve never heard of any question of their doing a good job of it. I’m pretty sure El Al does their own security as well, and they have never had an “incident”.

    @Truthiness ” I really don’t trust the free market to determine the appropriate level of security. What if one such free market airport determines to use only certain type of bag scanners because they are cheaper.”

    Well, we have the opposite with the TSA. They put in super expensive nude-o-scopes, that were proven to not be effective, because someone with lots of political pull managed to get the purchase mandated by the Feds. Now we have the worst of all worlds, huge waste of tax dollars, invasion of personal privacy, much longer waiting times, and yet are no more secure.

    The TSA goes after reporters who test out their security by attempting to smuggle in guns, etc, precisely because it is so easy to succeed. Occasionally people even find their have brought loaded handguns on board by mistake, having forgotten it was in their carry-ons. Or entire terminals have to be emptyied and rescreened, when people get thru security unscreened.

    Yes, I do believe that a free market system would do as well. Especially if the contract mandated termination of the contract if the private firm failed performance requirements. And I would still want those “constant audits” you mention, done independently, which the TSA currently fails, but only most of the time. 🙁

Comments are closed.