Expired Press Pass Lets Man Skip TSA Screening at Philly Airport

He says he was able to use the same line pilots and flight attendants use.

expired-press-pass-philadelphia-TSA-airportNotice to would-be terrorists: An expired City of Philadelphia press pass is apparently good enough to get you through security at Philadelphia International Airport without a lick of scrutiny.

On Tuesday morning, a Philadelphia man was flying out of Philadelphia International Airport to a Midwestern destination on business.

When he got to security at PHL, the man — a media professional — says he presented the City of Philadelphia press badge seen here. Note the expiration date of over a year ago. (We’re obscuring his face and name to protect his identity.)

Instead of putting him through the normal security screening process that the rest of us have to endure, he claims that TSA agents allowed him to use the same line used by pilots, flight attendants and TSA employees.

“No two-block[-long] line, no screening, no bag check, no taking off shoes,” he wrote on Facebook, later telling me that it also got him pre-boarding status, meaning he was one of the first passengers to enter the plane.

The press badge seen here was issued in April 2012, and the city actually stopped issuing press badges shortly thereafter.

“They were never officially supposed to be used as press passes at all, but that’s what wound up happening,” one of the mayor’s spokespeople explained to me. “They were supposed to be used just to make it quicker for journalists to get into City Hall. But since this is a public building anyway, and since we realized that people were using them as press passes elsewhere, they were discontinued.”

And while your average guy on the street couldn’t just walk into City Hall and get a press pass back when they were being issued, the city also didn’t put candidates through any kind of rigorous background check. Basically, all you needed was a referral and some official letterhead from a media outlet.

Of course, the man in question had no evil plans, no contraband. He was just trying to game the system and skip the line. “It looks so damn official, I figured it was worth a try,” he told me. And it seems to have worked.

The airport spokesperson did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A TSA spokesperson says he’s not exactly sure what happened here but suggests that the man was inappropriately allowed into the employee line and then somehow got designated as TSA Precheck. “But even the pilots and other employees are being screened,” he insists.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.

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  • Denise Rambo

    I’ve gotten sent through the TSA Pre-Check line at PHL WITHOUT any kind of credentials and for no reason that I’ve been able to discern. I get to the first TSA agent and they just point me toward the Pre-Check line. It IS very convenient.

  • The Real Richard Cranium

    I tried to flash some credentials at PHL once and I was told to enter the same line like every other John Q. Public. I was irked, because the agent didn’t realize that I am probably one of the most prolific commenters on the ‘net. Another time, I tried to be polite to a Customs Agent in Miami on my way back from the Islands. Yea, that was quite effective. I found myself hanging out in a room full of questionables being told that I was selected for a secondary screening. Last time, I was very nice to any of them.

  • John Q. Public

    Why can’t people just follow the rules? Go early, stand in line and get on a plane like the rest of us.

  • alex hatcher

    How is this even an issue? Your stuff is inspected and your scanned. why do we need an non-expired ID.

  • alex hatcher

    Inspecting the pilots is pointless. they are locked up front and CONTROL THE PLANE.

  • P Kelly

    Victor, your headline and most of the story is completely irresponsible and misleading. Just because your press friend was pointed toward the TSA pre check line, doesn’t mean he and his bag weren’t screened. Maybe he didn’t have to take off his shoes or coat, but his bags still went through an X-Ray and he went through a metal detector. Do some research instead of just throwing something on a page.

  • Tony Loro

    No ID is required. You can board with just your boarding pass. It’s the law. Just more hassle… sometimes.

  • Chris

    How exactly did the TSA give him pre-boarding status? TSA and the airlines barely talk to each other, and TSA certainly can’t change what’s already printed on a boarding pass.