Green Room

Woman with dagger in bag slips past TSA at JFK Airport

posted at 3:33 pm on March 4, 2012 by

From New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport comes yet another TSA moment not destined for the agency’s self-congratulatory highlight reel. A traveler with a dagger in her carryon bag was not only waved through a security checkpoint, the New York Post reports, but given a 10-minute head start to vanish before agents phoned Port Authority police.

The intent of 26-year-old Gabrielle Olsen does not appear to have been malevolent, but that comes as cold comfort in this latest Transportation Security Administration slip-up. The Post notes there were three security glitches in February alone.

According to the article, agents had successfully spotted, and confiscated, a bottle of liquid in Olsen’s luggage. Somehow, though, the knife had escaped their attention. It was not until the passenger had cleared security that an eagle-eyed agent happened to notice the image of the slender blade on a screening-machine X-ray.

Police managed to locate Olsen within 30 minutes after finally being notified, mainly because of the earliness of the hour—it was 6:09 a.m. when the slip-up occurred. She was arrested and charged with weapons possession, despite her protests that her father was an antiques dealer and had given her the dagger for protection.

Despite Olsen’s arrest, the JetBlue screening area in Terminal 5 remained shut down for nearly two hours, calling to mind an incident that occurred at JFK just eight days earlier. A suspicious passenger got past three TSA officials, necessitating the shutdown of a British Airways terminal for several hours while police searched for bombs.

Far and away the crowning jewel in the TSA’s history of breaches at JFK occurred in March 2011 when a Chilean plant worker was greenlighted by checkpoint agents despite having not one but two box cutters—the weapons of choice of the 9/11 hijackers!— in his carryon luggage.

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TSA, on the cutting edge of security.

rbj on March 4, 2012 at 3:52 PM

rbj on March 4, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Throw in a few Asian references, and I think you have a future writing headlines for ESPN.

Howard Portnoy on March 4, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Security Theater insanity continues unabated.

clippermiami on March 4, 2012 at 4:02 PM

They do have an excuse. All available agents were at the breast pump station.

eagleriverboy on March 4, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Throw in a few Asian references, and I think you have a future writing headlines for ESPN.

Howard Portnoy on March 4, 2012 at 3:57 PM

I’ll take a stab at it, but first I’ll have to Thai one on.

rbj on March 4, 2012 at 4:19 PM

I guess she wasn’t attractive.

lexhamfox on March 4, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Did they have to squint to find it?

I denounce myself.

Mimzey on March 4, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Yet they take away the child’s scissors I was using with a needlepoint. Well done, security people, well done.

mjk on March 4, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Traveled through JFK airport last fall, returning from three months overseas. TSA called me out of the line to show me that the shampoo bottle in my carry on was too large. I apologized, and let them confiscate it. As the fellow pulled it out of my bag, I noticed that a large glass bottle of vitamins had broken. I gasped out, “Oh no, my bottle of vitamins broke! Do you want to take that, too? That looks bad.” The agent said “No, that’s no problem,” and handed me back my bag!
There were large, jagged pieces of broken bottle in my bag like what villains in movies use as weapons. And I took them on the plane with TSA’s blessing. But of course, every large plastic bottle, every toy light saber, every pair of nail clippers, and every leatherman tool that we or our kids have inadvertently had in pockets or carry on have all been confiscated. Keeping our county safe!

Armorica on March 4, 2012 at 5:33 PM

A dagger? Big deal. What if she had been carrying a breast pump or a urine bag or a old grandma in a wheelchair? TSA would have been all over that threat.

vcferlita on March 6, 2012 at 11:52 AM