EXCLUSIVE: 2 walk past TSA agent, board plane at Minneapolis airport

Fox 9 News has confirmed that this past weekend, a man and a woman were able to slip right past a TSA agent who is tasked with making sure those who exit Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport do not come back in.

Anyone who has ever flown on a commercial airline knows that getting past security is something of a gauntlet -- an ID check; removing shoes, belts and metal; and a variety of metal detectors, X-rays and full-body screenings. This weekend, however, two passengers were able to skip all that by simply walking by a TSA agent who was apparently distracted by answering questions.

It was about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday when two passengers who cleared security left the main terminal to smoke; however, rather than get back in line where they would need to be screened again afterward, they simply walked through the "out" door the wrong way and went back up the stairs with their luggage in tow. As far as the TSA is concerned, that's a major security breach.

Fox 9 News learned that a limo driver apparently noticed what happened and alerted security. The airport was put on lockdown too; however, by the time security video confirmed what had occurred, the two passengers had already boarded their Delta flight and were en route to Minot, North Dakota.

Sources tell Fox 9 News that normally, an airport would be shut down for a situation like the one described. The terminals would need to be evacuated so that everyone could be re-screened -- but that didn't exactly happen in the Twin Cities. Instead, a TSA spokesperson confirmed that 5 minutes after the breach, screening operations were suspended for about 7 minutes while TSA officials and airport police swept the C concourse. When the passengers involved landed, they were reverse-screened and questioned before being released without charges.

Officials believe that the breach was unintended, but the fact that the two were able to use the restroom, eat and board a plane before airport security was able to track down what transpired is a great concern to many security personnel -- especially since it wasn't a sophisticated operation involving forged credentials or clearance. It's not the first TSA screw-up at the airport either. Almost one year ago, a 9-year-old Minneapolis boy slipped by security and boarded a flight to Las Vegas without ever having a ticket. Just last week, an Orono man who is on a security watch list got on a plane to Denver without any extra screenings only to get confronted by TSA agents when he landed.

TSA statement

"On Saturday, Sept. 20, around 10:35 a.m. CT, two individuals entered the sterile area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) through an exit lane. At approximately 10:40 a.m., screening operations were suspended for about seven minutes while TSA officials and the MSP police department swept the "C" concourse with negative findings. The circumstances surrounding this incident remain under review."