An on-duty flight attendant was caught trying to take a loaded handgun through the TSA security checkpoint on Friday as she was heading to work a flight out of Philadelphia International Airport.
Due to carrying a gun through an airport checkpoint, the 23-year-old flight attendant is now charged with firearms offenses under Pennsylvania state law and may incur financial penalties from the federal government.
Additionally, Kial Santa Cruz might lose her job with her airline. Although Cruz’s police mugshot appears to show her wearing an American Airlines uniform, neither the TSA nor the Philadelphia Police Department disclosed which airline Cruz works for.
American Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The TSA agent flagged Kial’s luggage for additional inspection, according to the police, and she was stopped as she passed through the Terminal C checkpoint. Her purse contained a semiautomatic Ruger handgun with a .380 caliber that was loaded.
There were no rounds in the chamber but there were five rounds in the magazine.
“We are always on the alert for any possible insider threats,” commented Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport.
The arrest comes just two weeks after a concessionaire at the airport was prevented from bringing a loaded handgun into the airport’s secure airside area. The employee claimed he had forgotten he had a gun in his bag.
“Flight attendants and workers inside the terminal have insider knowledge and access to areas of the airport and aircraft that could pose a serious security threat,” Spero continued.
“These are excellent examples of why it remains important that airline employees and individuals who work in airports need to be screened before gaining access to secure areas of the airport.”
As part of the “Known Crewmember” initiative, aircrew can frequently bypass the majority of security screening at US airports. However, the TSA has increased random additional checks in response to a string of incidents in which pilots and flight attendants tried to smuggle prohibited items through KCM access points.