Man uses stolen boarding pass to get through Utah airport security

A man who had stolen a boarding pass which was left by mistake on a Southwest Airline counter, managed to get through airport security in Salt Lake City, but was stopped at a gate for a flight to California.

The attendants at the boarding gate became suspicious since the woman for whom the boarding pass was printed had been given a replacement pas and had already checked in.

The Desert News reports that Michael Salata, 61, was arrested at the airport on 5 November, shortly after checking into a Southwest Airlines flight to Oakland.

 “He tried to make it seem like it was a mistake, that the boarding pass printed incorrectly, or that he grabbed the wrong boarding pass,” Craig Vargo, chief of airport police, told the newspaper.

Vargo could not explain how the discrepancy between the woman’s name on the boarding pass and Salata’s name on his driver’s license eludedTSA security.

It was also unclear why the incident was first disclosed twenty days after it happened.

TSA spokeswoman Lori Dankers said an agent made a mistake in identifying Salata, but the man was properly screened to determine if he was carrying anything dangerous.

“There are multiple layers of security in place,” Dankers said in an e-mail to the Desert News. She declined to say whether anyone has been disciplined and did not immediately return calls.

Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said the airline relies on TSA to verify boarding passes and identification, and the airline’s systems worked properly by flagging a boarding pass that already had been scanned and identifying a passenger who didn’t belong on the flight.

Salata has been on the sex offender registry in Utah since 2012, after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of lewdness involving a child. Court records also show he was cited for trespassing by police at the University of Utah twice in recent weeks — once before and once after the airport incident.

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