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CBS 2 Exclusive: L.I. Woman Makes It Onto Flight With Wrong Boarding Pass

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Even after three security checks, a woman from Long Island was somehow able to get onto a plane in Atlanta with the wrong boarding pass.

As CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported exclusively Monday, Donna Gold of Syosset has been left unnerved after being caught in the middle of what she called a major airline security breach. And she and others have wondered what would have happened if it had been a terrorist who made it onto a plane carrying a boarding pass with someone else's name.

"With terrorists and people that are dangerous, who are on a mission to do harm, how could this happen?" Gold said.

Gold was flying from Atlanta to New York on Aug. 21, and had her boarding pass printed curbside.

"You give them your driver's license or whatever form of identification you're using – and that's what use to retrieve your reservation -- and then they give you your boarding pass," Gold said.

She checked her bags with a Delta Airlines skycap.

"He checked my bag through, I got my baggage ticket put on back of boarding pass, and I was on my way," Gold said.

Late for her flight, Gold was then directed to Transportation Security Administration pre-check.

"The agent asked me to remove my sunglasses -- checking my driver's license, supposedly, against this boarding pass -- and I removed my sunglasses and he ushered me right through," Gold said.

She ran for her gate to make the flight to LaGuardia.

"I proceeded through," Gold said. "And the gate agent also checked my boarding pass."

But through three levels of protocol, no one caught the blatant error on Gold's boarding pass and luggage tag. They both bore the name of a stranger named Mark Dornan, and just before takeoff, Dornan showed up to claim his seat.

"I was asked to get up, and, 'Can I see your boarding pass?' And I, 'Oh sure.' I take out my boarding pass," Gold said. "And they're are like, 'This is not your boarding pass.' They tell me I'm a security breach. It was actually very humiliating."

Soon, airline and TSA officials boarded the aircraft. Gold was moved to a different seat and allowed to fly home, after she proved her booking via smartphone.

But now, Gold and other passengers have been left asking, "What if?"

"It only takes one serious security breach by a homegrown terrorist or foreign national to board an American airline, and down that airline," said security expert Anthony Roman, president of Roman and Associates global investigations. "So every breach is serious, but we have to be realistic – no security procedures are 100 percent."

The TSA in Atlanta said there are many levels of security, and the agent involved should have caught the error. But the TSA said Gold and her luggage were screened, so there was no risk of harm.

Delta Airlines has been looking into a computer glitch with a last-minute boarding.

Both agencies told CBS 2 they will look further into this case, and whether the airline is solely responsible for issuing the wrong boarding pass or if the TSA is to blame for the failure to match the passenger to her ID.

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