Arizona Flight Attendant Arrested For Bringing Loaded Handgun Through Philadelphia Airport Security

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Philadelphia International Airport prevented a flight attendant from boarding a plane with a loaded .380 caliber handgun on Friday, Sept. 15, two weeks after they prevented a man who worked at one of the airport retail concession shops from bringing his loaded handgun through the security checkpoint. Both individuals were arrested by police.

“We are always on the alert for any possible insider threats,” explained Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Both of these were good catches on the part of our team. Flight attendants and workers inside the terminal have insider knowledge and access to areas of the airport and aircraft that could pose a serious security threat. These are excellent examples of why it remains important that airline employees and individuals who work in airports need to be screened before gaining access to secure areas of the airport.”

The flight attendant, a resident of Arizona, was caught as the woman entered the security checkpoint to work on a flight. In addition to being arrested by police, she also faces a Federal financial penalty for carrying a gun to a checkpoint.

“It is well known publicly that passengers are not permitted to carry their firearms through our security checkpoints,” said Christine Assili, TSA’s Deputy Federal Security Director for the airport. “But it is equally important that the public is aware that individuals who work at the airport also are not permitted to be in possession of a gun. We are equally focused on screening employees as well as travelers.”

TSA officers at Philadelphia International Airport also stopped a man from North Carolina with a loaded 9mm handgun on Saturday, Sept. 16. His gun was confiscated by police, who arrested the man. He also faces a Federal financial civil penalty.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to individuals who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a gun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to individuals with or without concealed gun carry permits because a concealed carry permit does not allow a firearm to be carried through a checkpoint. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

According to new numbers from the TSA, over 170 guns have been confiscated from travelers at Phoenix Sky Harbor in 2023.

TSA says 173 guns have been found going through airport security as of Sept. 17, 2023. A total of 196 guns were confiscated in 2022 and 2021, and 124 guns were seized in 2020.

TSA reminds passengers to always know the contents of their carry-on bag prior to coming to the security checkpoint. TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage, either or neither. Travelers can use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA website or on the free downloadable myTSA app. Travelers can also tweet to @AskTSA or send a text message (275-872) if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance.