Hundreds of ID badges that let airport workers roam the nation's busiest hub have been stolen or lost in the last two years, an NBC News investigation has found.
While experts say the missing tags are a source of concern because they could fall into the wrong hands, officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport insist they don't pose "a significant security threat."
The wayward badges came to light when NBC-DFW asked airports across the country to reveal how many of them were unaccounted for. Only one, Atlanta, provided numbers before the Transportation Security Administration blocked the release of more data.
But at that single airport, where almost 60,000 people work, some 1,400 badges that allow employees to access secure areas like runways and boarding gates have gone missing over roughly two years.
"It's very, very serious. Without question," said Larry Wansley, who headed corporate security for American Airlines until 2004 and still consults for airports.