Passenger: Lack Of Female Screeners Made Me Miss Flight

TSA Says Flight Was Already Closed

A Littleton woman said she missed her flight because the Transportation Security Administration didn’t have any female screeners at the airport.

At the tiny Rock Springs, Wyo. Airport, the motto is "It’s easy to fly," which is why Jennifer Winning is a regular.

"In the last five months, I've flown out of there five or six times," said Winning, a former flight attendant who said she often goes through security just a few minutes before flights because it's such a small airport.

But on Jan. 29, after Winning checked in for her flight, she got an e-mail that it was delayed. So, she went outside the airport to watch the plane she was about to board land.

When she went back in though, the security door was locked.

A Transportation Security Administration agent informed her that the only female screener had been let off to avoid paying her overtime.

"I offered to sign a waiver to let a male screener check me, but they wouldn’t do it," Winning said. "I asked, 'If I was a man I could get on [the plane], but because I'm a woman I can't?' And he said, 'Yes, that's correct.’"

A TSA spokeswoman issued a statement to 7NEWS saying there had been several final boarding announcements, and that the reason Winning wasn’t allowed through security was actually because she was too late and "the airline was no longer accepting passengers for the flight."

Winning said she watched out the window as passengers boarded her flight and the plane took off.

She had to rent a car and drive the six hours to Denver.

"If you're at the airport and your flight is delayed, the golden rule is don't leave the boarding area," said Jeff Price, an aviation security expert with Metro State University of Denver. "Just as easy as a flight can be delayed, it can be back on time or less delayed."

Even though Winning should have been in the boarding area, Price said, it is unusual in such a small airport that TSA and the airline -- United/SkyWest -- didn’t try to help more.

He said there is a larger issue at play, considering passengers have been stuck waiting on planes on ramps for hours unable to deplane because TSA agents had gone home.

"Maybe security agents should be available until the wheels are off the ground," said Price.

"It wasn't about timing," Winning said. "It wasn't because I was late. It was because I am a woman, and they didn't have a female TSA agent."

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