Today, the Home Warrior came across this story and he thought I would want to see it. He was right, as usual. Sounds like Jennifer Winning was trying to fly home from a small Wyoming airport, and for some reason security was closed and she wasn’t able to make her flight. Once I read the article from MSNBC, I felt like I had a lot of questions. Another (short) piece was written about the incident in USA Today, but there’s still a lot of missing information.
“They wouldn’t let me get on the plane because I’m female,” Winning told FOX31 in Denver.
Well that’s pretty inflammatory! You see that, and you think, wow! That’s unacceptable. Is that what actually happened?
Winning told the TV station that she arrived at the security checkpoint at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure of her United Express flight (operated by SkyWest) to Denver, but was informed by a Transportation Security Administration employee that she couldn’t be screened because the security checkpoint had been closed and that all the female agents were off duty. If Winning needed a pat-down, there was no one available to perform it.
She told them that was fine, she would sign a waiver, but no dice. So she ended up renting a car to drive home instead of flying.
United said that in this airport, customers are required to have completed their check in process at least 30 minutes before the flight takes off (Of course, my question is–does that include going through security?), and that Winning tried to go through security 27 minutes before takeoff. The TSA says that once the airline lets them know that security screening is no longer needed, the checkpoint is closed. From USA Today:
However, the TSA says Winning wasn’t allowed to board because she was late and the flight had been closed after several final boarding calls.
It just seems so weird. In small airports, they will often close security if there are no flights going out. I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve seen people miss flights they easily could have made because of it. What neither story answers is: would they have re-opened the security checkpoint if the passenger were a man? If the issue is that the security checkpoint was closed, well, that’s unfortunate but that’s what happens when you cut it super close to your flight time. If the issue is that they could have reopened it, but didn’t because there were no female screeners on hand, well, that is another issue entirely.
The USA Today version adds another twist: it says Winning was there, at the airport, and the flight was delayed. She went outside, came back in, and it was too late. There’s no mention of that in the MSNBC article–just that she got there about 30 minutes before her flight took off, and the checkpoint was closed. If it’s true, and she were right outside, wouldn’t she have heard those “Last call for security!” announcements TSA made?
It sounds to me like when TSA tried to explain to her that the checkpoint was closed, she wouldn’t accept it. So they told her that there were no female officers on hand, hoping that would work. Not a smart move (and TSA isn’t exactly known for being at the top of their game all the time), but not the dumbest thing they’ve ever done.
Readers, what’s your take? Do you think she was denied because she’s a woman? Or that she was just too late and refused to accept responsibility?