WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Safety Administration is reviewing a report from a Capitol Hill newspaper that Sen. David Vitter, R-La., opened a closed gateway door to his scheduled United Airlines plane last week, setting off a security alarm, agency spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said today.
Gaches would not say what prompted the review, when it began, or whether the United Airlines gate attendant who, according to Roll Call, was the recipient of Vitter's anger after he was denied access to the plane, had filed a complaint.
The paper's "Heard on the Hill" column quoted an anonymous "tipster" describing the confrontation that occurred last Thursday, but provided no other sources to confirm the account.
Vitter's office had no immediate comment on the TSA review, but Wednesday issued a statement from the senator saying the Roll Call report on the airport confrontation was overblown.
"After being delayed on the Senate floor ensuring a vote on my anti-pay raise amendment and in a rush to make my flight home for town hall meetings the next day," Vitter said, "I accidentally went through a wrong door at the gate," Vitter said in a statement. "I did have a conversation with an airline employee, but it was certainly not like this silly gossip column made it out to be."
United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski did not specifically identify Vitter, but said that "somebody attempted to open a door that was closed," which set off an alarm. The airline contacted airport authorities, she said.
The closed door was at an airport gate, opening to a corridor that allows access to the airplane.
Urbanski had no information on whether the airline employee was subjected to verbal abuse.
Rob Yingling, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs Dulles, said that while airport police may have been contacted, it does not appear a police report was filed.