Newark Terminal C evacuated because TSA forgot to screen a tiny baby

The Port Authority Police and/or the TSA (they blame each other) at Newark Airport evacuated Terminal C on Friday because a tiny, little, itty-bitty baby didn't get screened (Mom passed the kid to Dad, got screened, and then they swapped). When the TSA's ever-vigilant anti-hugging squad figured out what had happened, the terminal was evacuated. But the mom, dad, and baby were never found. They had already taken to the air, and they may be there still. This is a stark reminder of the grave, existential risk that the TSA protects us from every day. When I think of the unscreened baby somewhere airside, circulating through America's aviation system, well, it gives me chills. I don't think I'll ever feel safe again.

Newark Airport Terminal Evacuated Over Unchecked Baby


  1. I’m trying to imagine the cover art for this when it’s translated into a Tom Clancyesque novel. The effort to find and ground the plane will be especially gripping either in print, or in the big screen adaptation, I’m sure.

      1. Years ago? Two or more years old is hardly a “tiny baby.”

        Woops, I was doing that thing where I thought big sellers had to make sense.

    1. Can’t help but think of the movie “12 Monkeys”. It could be that the baby was sent from the future as some sort of absurd plot device.

      1. Play it safe? I agree. I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

    1. You feed them and an hour later they create toxic waste in their diaper.

      Babies are dangerous.

      1.  Diapers can hold surprisingly large amounts of liquids or even matter of a consistency not dissimilar to cupcakes in a jar. 
        Clear and present danger. 

    2. “Babies are social ticking bombs waiting to explode.”

      No, that’s just the extremely full diaper.

  2. way to avoid the tiny detail that they BOTH set off the alarm: 

    The NY Daily News reports that mom and child had set off an alert when they passed through a metal detector at the Terminal C checkpoint together.

    The TSA machine is absolutely batsht crazy at times, but logic says if both set off the alarm, then both need to be rescanned. Cory, you need to take your hand off the outrage button for a few minutes.

    1. Cory explained the situation correctly. The only member of the family that did not get screened was the terrist infant.

      1. I’m sorry Mark, you’re wrong. Cory explained the situation so  fit his outrage. He was being truthy.  Mom & Baby both set off the alarm, but only Mom got rescreened.  Right or wrong, logically, all parties should get rescreened. But, the baby wasn’t so it sounds like a potential hole in the system. 

        Shutting down the airport? Probably over the line and worthy of scorn. But, if Cory had explained the preceding events how Consumerist did, then it wouldn’t have fit his narrative. 

        1. Funny. It sounds to me like you’re characterizing Cory’s post to fit your outrage. How meta.

    2. “… but logic says if both set off the alarm, then both need to be rescanned.”
      Nope.  Logic has nothing to do with the TSA.  They’d have to double their efficiency and triple their intelligence to compete with the people at my local Department of Motor Vehicles.

      1. Yep.  Here, MVD is definitely faster and better organized.  When you arrive you select the operation that you’re there to do as there are multiple, and you are issued a call ticket with a number.  When the clerk who draws your number calls you, they already know what the situation is and how to best handle it quickly.

        Contrast to the TSA, which theoretically has only one job and has fixed spaces every major airport in the US in which to do it, and it’s still a frackin’ mess.

        IF the security and screen process worked properly in the first place then I could understand there being a problem if they failed to check the baby, as yes, it could be possible for someone to use a baby as a mule to take something nonpermitted through security. But, all things aren’t equal, as the security is spotty and uneven, with both false positives and with detection failures.

    3. Logic says no such thing. 
      Logic says that when you have 58,401 (2011) employees, spending $8.1 billion (2012) annually, you’ll want to see some sort of positive result pertaining to the mission assignment. 

      When your insurance costs you more than the worst case scenario damage, you’re not being logical. 

      “They hate us for our freedom, so lets give it up, then they’ll like us.”
      “Let’s terrorize our population, so the terrorists can’t.” 

      All babies containing more than 3.4 ounces of liquids, aerosols or gels have to be disposed of into the bins conveniently placed near your waiting line.

  3. we have a shot of inside the plane in realtime.
    That kid is definitely laughing at our carelessness.

    Kevin Spacey said it best.The devil’s best trick is to look like a guffawing giggling cutie patootie.

  4. So why didn’t they recall the plane? They’ve done so before for lesser important reasons.

    If you’re gonna go stupid, go full hog. I can’t respect idiocy that gives up partway.

    1. I agree! And if they could not figure out which plain the terror-baby was on, they should have grounded all of the planes!

      1. Well, it’s all over now. That baby was in the “secure” space, which includes all secure zones in all the US airports. That baby could be in any of the airports; ergo they should ground all the airplanes and evacuate all of the airports to do a complete search, and then return things to normal.

  5. I cant wait for the TSA to start separate boarding procedure for infants.

    They’ll just pile them in a huge Snuggy™®© and toss them onto the plane with pitchforks.

    If the babies have any complaints, they can inform the TSA in writing themselves.

    1. My strategy for NYC airports including Newark: use them late at night. Zero waiting time the last couple of times I went through Newark and JFK, no line at immigration, nothing.

        1. That’s the secret: the passengers of the few late-night flights that _don’t_ get canceled have a wonderful non-crowded experience. Thanks, Robert, for making my experience a positive one!

    1.  I’ve always been amazed how they fuss and hem and haw about ID and about paper boarding passes, yet they never actually *do* anything with that information, like, oh, make sure that boarding passes are legitimate, and timestamp individual passengers as they go through security so that they can review footage to figure out who it was that was brought through.

      Yes, I know, the baby probably had no documentation on him as he probably shared a seat with a parent, but the parents should have had something each, and it would have been simple to figure out where they were going and to deal with it that way.

      And as for the concern for what could have been carried through with the baby, I don’t want to hear about knives or the ilk when one is able to get a knife from a restaurant within security.  It’d better be an explosive for it to actually matter.

      1. yet they never actually *do* anything with that information

        yeah…. not betting that’s true in the long run. Not hopeful it will work out well for us.

  6. Perhaps they were right to be worried, after all without scanning how would they know the baby wasn’t made of plastic explosives, animatronic limbs and makeup?

    1. Wait – aren’t *all* babies made that way anyhow?

      It’s time they started using those big plastic ear-tags like cattle have when you get scanned. Scan, ok, tag, done. Nice precise RFID data let’s them know where you are at all times.

  7. And, exactly what does a terrorist look like? You think that if a terrorist organization wants to smuggle something on a plane, they’d use a swarthy looking man between the ages of 18 to 35?
    You can argue whether these screenings are mere security theater or not. But, if you insist that terrorists are attempting to board planes, and that these screenings will stop them,  you must remember they also know they’re being screened and will do their best to get around screening protocol. Al Qaida recruited a white Westerner from London with a bomb embedded in the sole of his shoes because they knew that a white Westerner who spoke good English wouldn’t arouse suspicions, and that no one would search his shoes. The next week, we’re all taking off our shoes.Then, Al Qaida recruited a black man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and had an explosive device embedded in his underwear because they knew that current searching techniques would never look there. Now, we’re all being padded down and electronically stripped search.

    If there’s a policy not to search a baby or not to search someone who looks like grandma and is using a wheelchair, terrorist organizations will quickly realize this and use those as vectors. After all, these are already vectors used by drug smugglers trying to sneak drugs through customs.

    And, this points out the real issue I have with this security theater. If a terrorist organization wanted to smuggle something on an airplane, I would look through the security protocols and find a loophole. Does the TSA not screen a screaming toddler? Can you do a double pass (passing an object between two people as each is screened separately)? Who cleans the plane? Where are the planes parked at night? How easy is it to get through the back gate of an airport? Do some trial runs. Poke and prod for system weaknesses.

    The idea that we’re going to actually stop a terrorist with these screenings is ridiculous, and not the fact that we’re screening young kids or lovable grandmas. 

    Truthfully, using an air route for terrorism has been played out. Airlines will no longer let a hijacker take over control of an airplane, and passengers are no longer sitting passively around. Richard Reed and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab were both caught not be security, but by their fellow passengers.

    The real risk is that this security theater will be used against us. The major terminal of Newark shutdown for four hours because of a non-searched infant? Imagine a terrorist plot that doesn’t involve blowing up a plane, but tripping the security alarm, so that the entire airport gets evacuated. Do this in Chicago in midday, and you’ve made anyone who flies that day 4 to 5 hours late. Do this enough, and people will be too scared to fly — not because of a fear of terrorism, but because of a fear they’ll be stuck at the airport for 1/2 a day.

    1.  ok, I’m confused. Are exploding babies a threat we should worry about or not? Should we trade more liberties for some theoretical increase in safety that is more likely an illusion than reality? Is TSA theater a bigger long term threat to air travel than the terrists?

  8. This is all nonsense… and so unfair to TSA… I am confident that they will track all leads and somewhere / sometime in the dark of the night that baby… it’s too clever mom and dad will get pounced on in their sleep… and received the kind of justice they sorely deserve.   Mark my words.

  9. The problem is not that they wanted to scan the baby, which is, after all, basically luggage. If I wanted to sneak something onto a plane I might try sewing it into a diaper, then doing a “Here, honey, can you hold her for a second?” pass while I got re-scanned. Focusing on the “tiny, little, itty-bitty baby” part of the story is great for stoking outrage, but (if you accept that luggage needs to be scanned) that’s the one part of their procedure that makes sense. Imagine if she’d passed her purse to her husband before getting re-scanned — the security hole would be pretty obvious, right?

    Evacuating the terminal, passing the blame, and losing the baby seem like less tenuous vectors for outrage.

  10. You frothing, rationalist patriots have harried yourselves to the point where you are imagining BABIES IN MINIATURE EXPLOSIVE VESTS.
    Stop doing that.

  11. Goody. Now when you fly you’ll pass by the barrel of confiscated babies in with the confiscated lighters, scissors, half full bottles of water, various other contraband items, etc.

  12. As a carrier of liquids, why was the baby not separated into < 3.1 oz bottles and placed into a clear ziplock baggy?

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