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Questions Raised About Airport Security After Stowaway

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The bold actions of a teen prompts a nationwide look at our airports. He miraculously survived subzero temperatures in the wheel well of a jumbo jet from California to Hawaii, but questions are now being raised about how the teenager gained access to the airplane in the first place–and is enough being done to secure access around airports.

Mike Hellgren has some answers.

Hundreds of miles of barbed wire fencing surrounds BWI Marshall Airport, along with a network of cameras and security personnel monitoring on the ground.

But after a teen scaled a fence and gained access to a Hawaiian Airlines jet in California, questions are being raised nationwide over airport security.

“Something broke down here. Maybe we need to be spending more time looking at the outside of our airports and the perimeters of those airports, given the fact that we’ve had a successful breach,” said transportation safety expert Mark Rosenker.

“He was determined and if you’re determined, you’re going to get over these fences or wherever you want to go,” said Joy Perry.

The fences at San Jose’s airport are six feet. At BWI, they’re several feet higher and topped with barbed wire. There have been no similar incidents here.

BWI Marshall’s spokesman wouldn’t reveal them but says, “There are many security measures, some highly visible and other procedures and protocols that customers would not recognize.”

“If you park on that road, within five minutes, somebody’s behind you asking you why you’re parking there,” said Paul E. King Jr.

But WJZ found that, according to a Congressional report, in the decade after 9/11 there were almost 1,400 breaches elsewhere nationwide, including a stowaway found dead after landing nearby at Dulles last February.

“I am calling on the Government Accountability Office to do an assessment across our country of our airports’ perimeters,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell.

WJZ also found while the TSA has spent $80 billion on security since its foundation, none of that money has gone toward upgrading airport perimeters.

“We’re spending billions of tax dollars since 9/11. It’s kind of scary sometimes,” said air traveler Bill McMichael.

The government chose not to charge the teen who snuck onto the Hawaiian flight because he posed no threat. He was just trying to see his mother in Africa and got on the first plane he saw.

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