December 27th, 2010
12:15 PM ET

San Francisco airport defends security in wake of pilot's videos

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/TRAVEL/12/25/california.tsa.pilot/t1larg.california.tsa.pilot.jpg caption="An airline passenger submits to a full-body scan. A commercial pilot recently posted a video on the web that showed the contrast between the passengers, who were heavily scrutinized, and airport employees who just passed through a single door." width=300 height=169]

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - The leadership of San Francisco's airport fired back Saturday at critics who had rallied around a commercial pilot who had posted videos online showing what he described as shortcomings in security.

The series of videos featured scenes from inside the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and were narrated by the pilot, who pointed out the contrast between the passengers, who were heavily scrutinized, and airport employees who just passed through a single door.

The footage was posted, and later removed, from the popular video-sharing website YouTube.

"A recent YouTube video, posted by a U.S. airline pilot, presents false and misleading information on SFO's security program," the airport said in a statement. "The video shows a door with a card swipe and suggests that access is gained to the airfield area through this door. In fact, the door shown in the video provides access only to an employee lunchroom."

The pilot who posted the videos requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"I was trying to bring up the obvious, ludicrous TSA-type of security," he told CNN.

The pilot said he didn't think much about posting his videos online in late November, but that within a matter of days his chief pilot called him to ask him to remove them because they were "stirring a commotion."

In its statement Saturday, the airport defended its practices, stressing that there are variances in the security system based on various factors and that many layers of protection cannot easily be seen.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (19 Responses)

    Help help help that's all I can say for our citizens who depend on our system. If a PILOT is speaking out we need to pay attention
    (They fly us around the worl) not make him/her feel like a criminal, what is wrong with our system/airports???? I will record all of my boarding's from now and on and I will post them on YOU TUbE to tell the public about my experience and I feel that if any one feels it need's to be reported than it should be and if we have nothing to hide??? Why would any one want to remove it from any website ???? Keep us alert we need to take care of one another not make them pay for speaking up???to hell with our government if they can't protect us than we need to take care of our self!!!!PROFUGO

    December 28, 2010 at 5:49 am |
  2. Tia Cucu

    The Question, Is the ground crews also being screened? O M GAWD, That's a no brainer. Of course they should be.

    TSA, get on the job and stop twitteling your thumbs.

    December 28, 2010 at 5:29 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    This reporting? on AC 360 today was so one sided it was a disgrace.
    I am just a long time international/domestic air traveller and what I do know first of all is that in both International and domestic terminals there is the dividing line of land side and air side.
    If you work air side previous and other agencies have reported the additional security checks on such employees before being appointed.
    The day to day situation at most airports is random re-checks on air side employees.
    Land side security is less of course as most
    areas are franchise outlets (who hire thier own staff) and less security is needed here and they are not TSA employees.
    This reoprt was CNN at its worst drama, drama,
    drama and forget the full facts!!

    December 28, 2010 at 2:24 am |
  4. Jacob

    If TSA allowed people with consealed weapons liscensed people to bring guns on planes, terrorists can't get away with anything onboard. Now they just need to fix the ground crew problem.
    Al-Quida is trying to run us out financialy and it's working.

    December 28, 2010 at 1:23 am |
  5. continental pilot

    As a current pilot I can tell you that this procedure happens all over the country. Houston, Newark, San Diego, etc. Think about those gate agents, you never see them in security lines...why? They bypass! TSA's rule that only people going onto the plane for a flight need to be screened is horrible. I don't know what the ground crews are putting into the baggage bin below, they could easily sneak anything they want into the so called "secured area". Pilots have been complaining about it for years, only now has there been any talk about it. I praise this guy for getting the word out.

    December 28, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  6. Janis Fontecchio

    Dear AC360,

    Per your segment on "San Francisco airport defends security in wake of pilot's videos".

    In the segment, the San Francisco Airport officials explain away the door by stating: "In fact, the door shown in the video provides access only to an employee lunchroom."

    Since when is a door to an employee lunchroom marked "EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY"?

    Do the San Francisco Airport officials really expect the American public to feel safe flying, when the officials in charge obviously can't even read?

    How about a follow-up segment, Mr. Anderson, where you pay a visit to the purported "employee lunchroom"?

    That would be investigative journalism at it's best!

    December 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  7. Mark

    Just watched the SFO Security piece on CNN.
    Kudos to the SFO Airport PR for their spin over the "Lunchroom" door.
    Want the truth?
    If so, just watch the employee bus show up at the airport.
    Flight crews to the security line and ground workers to the doors (yes, plurall.)
    They simply swipe their card keys to go through said doors with backpacks, lunch boxes, etc.
    Ask the SFO PR team for clarification.

    December 27, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  8. Brian Hartwick.

    I worked at L A X for 9 months and was disapointed at the so called security. I had access to the whole airport with customs and badging and keys as an elevator shop hire hall employee.I was blown away at arriving to work and driving one of the shops trucks to the parking lot where we parked,then loading up tools and going into work everywhere their was equipment to be serviced or repaired. thats just the beginning of what i consider a joke as i take this subject very serious. I support this pilots story and am sorry but maybe someone should listen to proactive citizens like us that care.

    December 27, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  9. Steve

    "In fact, the door shown in the video provides access only to an employee lunchroom."

    That's a flat out lie! The door says "Emergency Exit Only"! Emergency Exit into a lunchroom? Give me a break!

    December 27, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  10. l.j. Richmond

    The unsecured door is labeled "emergency exit" so obviously it leads to somewhere other than a lunchroom?

    December 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  11. John (Bermuda)

    I think that it's just a automatic damage control response by the San Francisco T.S.A.,
    though to acknowledge the situation and implement corrective measures, would have been a more reasonable response to the pilot's video. Here in Bermuda Ground Staff must pass through security check-points when entering and exiting the ramp at the L.F.Wade Bermuda Airport. Seasons Greetings Everyone from us here in the Tiny Island of Bermuda!!

    December 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  12. Peggy

    Truly I feel that you americans care nothing for your security or your economy or the truth, just so long as you get rid of your wonderful black president and get your 15 minutes of fame on tv. The most of you are willing to sell your soul for either, I have never seen such disrespect and lies in my life, it absolutely makes me ill every day. Why is it, that after your president lost over 100 seats from all the lies that your station told that you are now starting to reveal the truth about the things that President Obama has done for your country, is it conscience or is it that people are sick of the lies and like me are tuning out after years of being loyal watchers but are sick to death of the sneering faces of people like Ed Henery and the likes disrespecting someone as honorable as your president, and are now tuning out and your ratings are going down. You people talk about him as though he is a dog. You no longer have my support after sll these years.

    December 27, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  13. Mike Moore

    I find it funny that the person possibly protecting not only his life but many others is condemed for his findings. Has the TSA thought about thanking Chris yet? Why are the people working with the most important part of the flight..... omg the plane itself, allowed to come and go as easy as they do without more security than the average Joe Public. I say stop argueing, sit down and get it fixed... it's not a battle of he said she said. It is the possible life of your mothers, fathers, grand parents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters we could save... No one cares if the TSA or Chris is wrong or right... We just want to be as safe as possible.

    December 27, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  14. Leo

    So are people saying that the security employees should be inspected heavily as well like the passengers who are about to get on an airplane? Can this matter even be flaws?

    December 27, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  15. GARVIN

    Did the pilot not realize that many of these entrances and exists are heavily monitored by surveillance cameras – the TSA themselves conduct routine tests on their own abilities to get on and off aircrafts – although this pilot may have access like some of us who may have cleareance i.e enforcement, airline personnel, even members of the press – we still all have a RESPONSIBILITY of NOT exposing PERSONAL RECORDINGS of airport confidential and highly sensitive information on any SOCIAL and PUBLIC networks.

    December 27, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  16. Inga

    I is true that security in American airports is much weaker than in Europa or asia.
    I live in Europa and travel for my work purpose constantly around the globe.
    Last week we fly to Las vegas and San fransisco and I noticed that one can walk in to the bagage claim area at airport. There is no one to check or stop you. Suitcases are often stolen (my sons bag was stolen)It was verified by Delta employer.She also said that the reason that there are no guarding is saving salarys.
    The worst secanario is that someone can walk in with a bomb to the terminal area through luggage claim,hand over the bomb to someone who already has passed security and waiting for boarding.

    This is only possible in America.

    December 27, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  17. linaet

    i think this was a good thing he did. It made SFAP to think about what they are doing or not doing. Sometimes it take a hard look through someone else's eyes to see your weaknesses.

    More people should watch dog them to make sure the system is working at its best. He was just a concerned whistle blower... THANKS GUY!! You can fly me anytime!!

    December 27, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  18. Kim

    Employee exit airport door to plane access cards need review. Just slide it on through and you're at the plane.How many employee's lost access cards on record and what is their proceedure for a new access card ? Who keeps up with that and sends the report to Homeland Security ? How often is it checked and monitered ? Have all employees passed FBI background checks and do they have their finger prints on file ? Teacher's have to have it to work in school systems and do Airline Employees ? The pilot showed this in the video and it makes sense and who's checking the cargo right before it goes on the plane ? This cargo is on the runway about to be boarded on plane and the pilot said no one was checking it.The video shows no one was there.The areas of reasonable concern pointed out by the pilot are embarrassing and should have been way before this pilots video handled for American Citizen security.Make a comparision and remember the lady put in a locked glass box because she doesn't want her baby milk run through the x-ray machine and that's in your policy of rules as acceptable isn't it ? The police officer tells her as reported it's a dog and pony show when he sees her burst into tears after an hour of being locked in the glass box cause she's not running baby milk through an x-ray machine.God Bless America and hooray for the pilot making good common sense for airport security.Not saying the U-tube video was a good idea but the news is showing it and we've seen it, so fix the security problems at your airport.Have a nice day !

    December 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
  19. Kim

    The video was taken off U-Tube for security reasons I'm sure but the pilot makes an intelligent point of reference upon which Homeland Security should have already thought about and that goes for the airport too.Check your workers and baggage trucks. What's going on with the pass cards to exits ? Someone loses an exit pass card and then what happens if it ends up in the wrong hands ? We saw the pilots video and he's making reasonable sense for enhanced security measures to be taken that should have already been done ! Get over your ego and fix the concerns !

    December 27, 2010 at 8:46 pm |