A JetBlue pilot lost his government-issued handgun after a passenger mistakenly picked up his carry-on luggage, authorities said Friday.
The pilot was waiting for his New York-to-Pittsburgh flight at Kennedy Airport on Thursday morning when a passenger who was traveling with children mistakenly picked up his backpack along with her family's bags, an official familiar with the incident told The Associated Press Friday. The official was not authorized to comment publicly about the incident and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The passenger boarded a flight to West Palm Beach, Fla. When she realized one of the bags was not hers, she notified a flight attendant, and the bag was returned, the official said.
The Transportation Security Administration said the gun was locked so that it could not fire. The pilot was certified to carry a weapon as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, which is aimed at training pilots to fend off would-be hijackers, the TSA said in a written statement.
The TSA declined to comment on other details of the incident.
The agency said was still investigating, noting that pilots are "required to follow strict protocols for securing their TSA-issued firearm."
The Pittsburgh flight was delayed about an hour while JetBlue found a replacement pilot.
"We are cooperating fully with local authorities," JetBlue said in a statement. "We appreciate the assistance of the TSA and other agencies that managed the situation efficiently without placing undue burden on our customers."