Newark Airport Checkpoint Is Closed After Security Breach

A checkpoint at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport reopened after a security breach at 1:15 p.m. local time involving a baby who wasn’t properly screened.

The incident occurred in Terminal C, where United Continental Holdings Inc. operates flights, and passengers were routed to other checkpoints for screening, said Sara Beth Joren, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The checkpoint reopened about 90 minutes later, she said.

After a mother and baby triggered an alarm when passing through a metal detector, the woman handed the child to the father, who had already been screened, before she was checked, Lisa Farbstein, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

“Since the baby was not properly screened, TSA officers began to look for the family in the secure area of the terminal,” Farbstein wrote.

Newark is a gateway for United’s international flights, and together with its regional partners the company controls about two-thirds of passenger traffic there.

“We’re holding about a dozen planes so we can accommodate customers” who need extra time to get through security, said Michael Trevino, a spokesman for United.

The Chicago-based carrier was formed through the 2010 merger of United’s parent UAL Corp. and Continental Airlines Inc.

Pat Down

The Newark incident marked the second time in as many weeks that TSA’s security procedures ensnared a small child.

A 4-year-old girl was singled out for a pat-down search on April 15 after she went around an airport checkpoint in Wichita, Kansas, as her family were departing for Montana.

TSA agents said the daughter needed additional screening because of the contact with her grandmother, who was awaiting a pat down after triggering an alarm, the child’s mother, Michelle Brademeyer, wrote in a public Facebook post. Agents wanted to screen the girl alone in a separate room, upsetting her, then cautioned the parents when the girl wouldn’t calm down, according to Brademeyer.

Dennis Rehberg, Republican Representative of Montana, summoned TSA officials to his office to discuss establishing citizen advocates to help mediate airport screening disputes. The agency has to “answer for making a 4-year-old cry,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Senator Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, on April 25 asked the agency to account for the girl’s treatment.

The TSA said in a statement earlier this week the additional screening was justified.

“It was explained to the family why the pat down was needed,” Bob Burns, TSA’s official blogger, said in an April 24 post. “We’ve reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper current screening procedures.”

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