Earlier this year, a JetBlue flight attendant was caught trying to smuggle 11 packages of cocaine (about $3 million worth) past security
at JFK. She used her crew badge to bypass the standard security checkpoints, but then, what was supposed to be a smooth operation backfired: she got flagged for a random screening. She ended up dropping the drugs and running, and it took authorities four days to catch up with her.
The incident brought scrutiny to the TSA’s policy of not examining flight crews thoroughly at security checkpoints. The TSA’s stated rati
onale for this is that they prefer to focus their attention on potential threats to flight safety, not smugglers. This flight attendant might have been caught doing something against the law, but she is not a terrorist. The official, primary concern of airport security is terrorism. But is there more going on behind the scenes than we are aware of?
The Transportation Workers Union has lobbied many times that the salaries of flight attendants should be higher. Perhaps if flight crews earned a decent living wage, individuals would feel less compelled to attempt illegal activities like smuggling.
Regardless of the motive, however, flight attendants have historically been ideal candidates for the dirty work of “drug mule.”
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