Video Shows What Got The American Airlines Cleveland Airport Manager Fired

The American Airlines General Manager for Cleveland airport has been fired and video shows why. He was caught on tape using his access credentials to bypass security and board a flight. He’s “also accused of having someone bypass security to bring him a charger for a laptop.”

According to American Airlines,

[W]e have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members and we took this matter very seriously. This individual no longer works for American Airlines.

Former manager for the airline at Cleveland Juan Restrepo says he “made a terrible mistake and deeply regret[s his] actions,” no doubt since it cost him his job at a time when jobs in the airline industry are scarce.

Of course when the city’s airport deputy commissioner “‘improperly escorted’ a relative through a secure area” that person kept their job, and when “an airport executive helped another city government executive bypass security” they kept their job after a suspension as well.

The TSA – which has had half of its own employees accused of misconduct – will ‘review’ the incident.

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 »

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  1. Everyone with a SIDA Badge for any airport knows, you HAVE to clear security if you are getting on a flight. Also escorting relatives is a big no no.

  2. Why would anyone be allowed to bypass security. Employees should be screened everytime they enter. This is why it’s all just “theater”. It really matters very little to me that he boarded a flight versus just had access to the “secure” air-side of the airport. How hard would it be for a terrorist to get a job at an Auntie Annes, Chevy’s, Hudson, etc. and bypass security versus a job at an airline to work air-side. How hard would have been for this manager to bring a gun or explosive through that door and hand it off to a person to hijack a plane or do it himself. I’m really surprised they caught this manager doing this unless this is common practice anyway.

  3. It just shows truly how insecure we are in the skies. When you rely on the honor system to keep your planes safe from malicious/exploited employees, the security we hold in such regard is rendered absolutely worthless. It only takes one person, one time, to cause the unthinkable.

  4. @DaninMCI a person working at Auntie Anne’s in the airport would be screened like a passenger. Airline employees are not screened this way as they are subjected to an extensive background check upon hiring. Because of this, airline employees get access to a badge and a pin code that allows them access to secure areas of the airport.

  5. If you work in an airport you still go through security so that dispels the terrorist argument working at the pretzel shop. This is why this fellow got fired. Even flight crews must pass through security. Bypassing is a major breech in security protocol.

  6. PSA flight 1771, right after the merger with USAir. A credentialed but recently fired employee bypassed security, boarded a scheduled flight, brought a gun on board, shot the pilots and put the plane in a nosedive. No survivors. How quickly we forget.

  7. Why wouldn’t someone like that be prosecuted? If I broke the lock on the door and entered the facility unscreened I’m sure I would be arrested. Him using his credentials for something outside of his job should be illegal.

  8. @reginald & Sandra – you both get it! The PSA 1771 incident – one other – is the reason we have SIDA.

    I taught SIDA training in the 90’s.

  9. I doubt this was the first time he bypassed security although it was the first time he was caught committing such a felony. As an executive he should be prosecuted. Of course he is sorry – he most certainly is sorry he was caught. Such behavior cannot be tolerated. Lead by example or face jail time.

  10. @Jayln : As far as I know, no airline employees have access with pincode from unsecure to secure side, only certain airport employees have that and specific security personnel have a special door that allow them quick access with their badge. All airline employees are supposed to go through security but with less restrictions (somewhat like those with TSA pre-approved).

  11. Does anyone want to address why airport and/or airline employees are permitted to go ahead of passengers at TSA screening? I do understand that it’s annoying since they work there and have to go through TSA often. I can’t think of any other job where employees are given priority over paying customers.

  12. Good. I guess Juan will be dusting off his resume. It’s one of the first rules of working at any airport, …you DON’T bypass security checkpoints in any way, like since 911. Sick of people who are arrogant and think they are above the law.

  13. As a 51yr veteran flight attendant with a major USA-based carrier I can share my thoughts. There’s quite a bit to be accomplished prior to the first passenger being allowed to board. My airline requires we ‘sign-in’ at least one hour prior to scheduled departure, a briefing is held at sign-in. Ideally boarding starts :40 before scheduled departure. Depending on the distance to the departure gate the :20 window can be greatly reduced. Once we check-in with the agent and board part of our immediate job is to verify all emergency equipment is present, secured and in proper working order. We also verify all trash cans and carts have been emptied and ‘nothing inappropriate’ is anywhere – that includes pulling every catering cart and opening every carrier to insure everything is as it should be. In the process we have to verify we have the correct catering as per.specs. Then we verify we have all our extra lavatory supplies, all toilets flush and the lavatories are fully stocked. We also take a few seconds to stow our belongings and by that point the agent is anxious to board. Of course when an inbound aircraft runs a bit late the process is impacted.

    In the past my airline researched having flight attendants sign-in a bit earlier with the hope of eliminating some delays. The consensus was passengers definitely did not want to pay increased airfares to offset the additional time-on-duty pay. It may seem strange to see cabin crew going through the KCM (Known Crew Member) lane, but rest assured the process to obtain that status is hard-earned. A concealed carry permit can be easier to obtain.

    I am not trying to be argumentative. My only goal is to share a few details that might not be common knowledge.

  14. So what do we do about the city’s airport deputy commissioner who improperly escorted a relative through a secure area? And what about the airport executive who helped another city government executive bypass security? If we are all supposed to be equal then I need to know how I can bypass security, escorted of course.

  15. people are outraged because they perceive this as inequality, not because of they feel unsafe. hate to break it to you. the world is not fair. it will never be fair. and equality can never be achieved. unless you are the last person on the planet.

    If you live in America, you already have it better than the majority of people ON THE PLANET. Quit your whining and get on with your day.

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