Security Lapse at LaGuardia Is Cause for Alarm

Man was able to get on plane with mismatched boarding pass and passport

An investigation is underway at LaGuardia Airport into how a man was able to pass through security and board a flight even though the name on his passport did not match the name on his boarding pass.

The discrepancy was not even discovered until the man boarded JetBlue Flight 371 on the morning of May 13. 

It was another passenger, Jason Paris of Westchester, who made the discovery.

"Someone tried to sit in the seat next to me but a man was already sitting in it," said Paris. "The man sitting next to me told me that I was actually in his seat but he did not ask me to move. He produced his boarding pass and it said 11F and it had my name on it."

Both boarding passes read "Jason Paris" seat 11F.  But there was a big problem, the other man's name was not Jason Paris.  He had a European passport that was issued in Paris, France, but that is where the similarities ended.

"He looked nothing like me. He said he got the boarding pass from the desk that morning," said Paris. "When personnel from the gate came to our aisle to sort out the mess, they never asked to see my drivers license or to see his passport. The only thing they were concerned about was finding his rightful seat, which was 21D."

Paris, a married father of two children, admitted he was reluctant to stay on the flight and even emailed his friend to make sure someone knew what had transpired.

"I did not dare go to sleep. The entire flight, I looked behind me at row 21. In this post 9/11 world, all I could think was, I hope nothing horrible is going to happen on this flight."

JetBlue acknowledged the ticket flap and issued a statement saying, "We are conducting an internal investigation into this incident and we will collaborate with the TSA on our findings."

"That obviously means whoever was doing the document check that day did not really look at the license and look at the name," said Michael Balboni, New York's former deputy secretary of Public Safety.

Balboni said while overall, the Transportation Security Administration, does a good job, because of flaws in the system and human error, security lapses will occur.

"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."

Passengers at LaGuardia were even more concerned that a man was allegedly able to pass through security even though the name on his identification did not match the name on his boarding pass.

"Where's the safety?" asked Ruben Rojas. "That means anyone can go as Joe Blow and get on a plane. I thought that was why they checked your I.D."

The Transportation Security Administration said they are investigating this incident but that passengers should rest assured that both men were thoroughly screened at the checkpoint and that no one was allowed to bring anything dangerous onto the plane. 

A spokesman for JetBlue also said that security is a multi-layer process shared both by the airlines and the TSA.

Contact Us