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Unfriendly Skies: Pilot, TSA confrontation at airport security checkpoint

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 10. 2012 10:29PM

MANCHESTER - Police are investigating a confrontation between a pilot and Transportation Safety Administration supervisor at a security checkpoint in Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on Friday.

There were no charges filed Friday and investigators planned to look at video surveillance footage to determine whether any were warranted, Londonderry Police Lt. Tim Jones said.

An officer on patrol at the airport responded after something angered Southwest Airlines pilot John Mcghie as he went through security screening around 10:30 a.m, Jones said.

Mcghie complained he had difficulty in the past with security at the Manchester aiport and demanded to speak to a supervisor, who only upset Mcghie more, Jones said.

'He felt that the supervisor was condescending and patronizing. He wanted the supervisor's name but he refused to give it,' Jones said.

The argument escalated from there, but never got more physical than TSA official Bob Harbaugh touching Mcghie's arm, Jones said.

'At that point Mr. Mcghie told him not to touch him. Mr. Harbaugh became defensive and threatened to call the police,' Jones said.

Police arrived and took accounts from both men.

Mcghie said he told Harbaugh not to touch him a second time and Harbaugh complied, but the pilot told police he still wanted to see Harbaugh face criminal charges.

Mcghie also said he never raised his voice during the incident and told the officer that he had problems with the TSA at Manchester in the past.

The TSA was aware of the confrontation by Friday afternoon and was leaving the final investigation up to Londonderry police.

'A preliminary review of the situation indicates that the officer followed proper screening protocol,' said Ann Davis, TSA spokeswoman for the Northeast Region. 'We'll await the Londonderry Police Department's findings as well.'

Southwest spokeswoman Christi McNeill said the airline was also looking into Mcghie's actions but had no immediate response on Friday afternoon.

A message left at a listing for a John Mcghie in Concord was not immediately returned.

Jones said the argument did not heat up enough to draw the attention of any witnesses. Mcghie told police he was not loud during the confrontation.

Although the airport is in Manchester, Londonderry police are under contract to oversee law enforcement at the airport.

Jones said the security footage taken at the checkpoint area should clear up whether the confrontation amounted to an assault.

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