Atlanta Airport Installs Locks on Checkpoint Doors

Aug. 10--Workers installed locks on all doors at the Atlanta airport's main security checkpoint Tuesday, three days after another early morning security breach.

For the second time in two weeks, passengers walked through unlocked doors that enabled them to bypass screening on their way to gates at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

In the latest incident, two of the four men who avoided screening never were found, although officials do not believe they had any malicious intent. The breach happened at 5:17 a.m. Saturday, when a security screener stopped two men walking through a closed lane on the far right of the checkpoint, said Christopher White, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees airport security.

The glassed-in lane normally is reserved for people who require extra screening --- often because of potentially suspicious behavior such as booking a flight at the last minute or paying with cash. But at that hour, the lane was closed and unstaffed, although the door did not have a lock.

The men said they were directed to that lane by an airport contract employee checking tickets in front of the checkpoint. The men then were screened and allowed to continue on to their flights.

An initial review of security videotape led TSA managers to believe only those men had bypassed screening. A later review by top management determined that two more men also had bypassed screening a short time earlier.

By that time, it was 2 1/2 hours after the security breach and the TSA decided not to shut down the entire airport and rescreen all passengers.

On July 22, a group of passengers, including a family of four, bypassed security by walking through a side door on their way to the T Concourse shortly after 1:30 a.m. All 50 passengers in the concourse at the time were rescreened.

Also Tuesday, TSA officials met with representatives of Georgia's senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, over proposed cuts in security staffing at Hartsfield-Jackson. White said the group discussed ways to improve efficiency, although he declined to be specific.

Chambliss said TSA officials told him they will release plans in coming weeks on how to improve efficiency and prevent staffing problems that would boost passenger wait times. "While I feel that the meeting was beneficial, it is safe to say that we have a lot of work to accomplish with TSA," Chambliss said.