Homeless Male Sex Offender Gets Through TSA ID Check With Stolen Woman’s Boarding Pass

It’s a good thing that the TSA doesn’t actually contribute to security, and is only theater meant to make people feel safer while giving up their rights.

Because otherwise it would be a problem that this homeless man went through a TSA checkpoint at Salt Lake City’s airport using a boarding pass that a woman left behind at a check-in kiosk.

Michael Salata, 61, was arrested on Nov. 5 after boarding the Southwest Airlines flight, according to jail records obtained Thursday.

He had grabbed a boarding pass that a woman accidently left at a check-in kiosk and used it to get through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, said Craig Vargo, chief of airport police.

The TSA says it doesn’t matter that the man’s ID didn’t match his boarding pass, since he went through proper screening. Of course it doesn’t. But they make us show our papers every day to pass through the checkpoint nonetheless.

The woman who left her boarding pass got a replacement and the airline was alerted something was amiss when the ‘same person’ tried to board the same place twice. Though the man tried to play it off as a mistake, further investigation found that he wasn’t actually in supposed to be flying. He was handcuffed and police found marijuana in his pockets. So he was charged both with “suspicion of felony fraudulent handling of a legal document” (note to frequent flyers who might have had someone else take mileage runs for you: who knew that boarding a flight with someone else’s boarding pass was a felony?) and with drug possession.

No word on whether the homeless man had the presence of mind to swipe a boarding pass with a low boarding position or not.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Interesting that she “found him in her seat” when she boarded. Southwest has no assigned seating, so this is not possible. Wonder how they actually caught him.

  2. I’m thinking it was because when they scanned her pass it had “already been scanned.” Or perhaps he was standing in her “numbered” boarding order spot?

    How did they allow him through security when his ID and the boarding pass didn’t match?

  3. Reading Is Fundamental:

    1. The woman passenger didn’t “find the man in her seat”. The linked article in your post states that the man, who boarded prior to the woman, was caught when the woman’s mobile BP was scanned and it showed as having already been scanned at the gate.

    2. Where did you source that the man is homeless? Neither the linked article nor a couple of others that I happened to find state that. The article only states that listed phone numbers for the man had been disconnected, which doesn’t mean he’s homeless. And even if he were or is homeless, how is that relevant to aviation security?

    3. Why is the fact that he had a sex offense conviction relevant to the incident or to aviation security? No doubt lots of registered sex offenders fly every day on their own, valid tickets and ID.

    I fully agree that the TSA is a wasteful security theater and their “ID Matters” BS is one sad part of it. Please keep calling them out on that hypocrisy – as too few people do!

  4. @Eric – the first article I opened from Google news said, “Salata, who is homeless, was arrested on suspicion of fraudulent handling of a recordable writing” and several sources suggested the passenger had boarded.

  5. I was alarmed to read “stolen woman’s boarding pass” and relieved to learn it referred to a purloined BP rather than a kidnapped female.

    Has the TSA issued the standard “no passenger was at risk” CYA release yet?

  6. Everyone we have gone through security they check name on ticket to license. So why is SAlt lake city agents doing wrong. Do they not check off the name on the ticket


    You made my day, Gary ))))))))

  8. Semantics Nerd here…I wonder what he looked like going through security with a stolen woman under his arm…

  9. How, and with whom, does one record a boarding pass?
    Do you then get a certified copy of it to give to the airline when you board?
    I move to dismiss the charge!

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