The TSA confirmed that the passenger was able to board Delta Flight DL295 in Atlanta with the firearm and made it all the way to Tokoyo Narita International Airport, according to CNN.
"TSA has determined standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on the morning of January 3,” a press release said.
The passenger with the gun reported the incident when the flight arrived in Japan and was sent back to the U.S.
Although the partial government shutdown had started over a week before the incident occurred on Dec. 22, 2018, the TSA said the incident was not related to the shutdown and that a normal number of workers was on duty that day.
TSA employees have been calling out since the partial government closure started because the agency is one of many in which employees are not being paid.
"The perception that this might have occurred as a result of the partial government shutdown would be false," the TSA said on Twitter.
"The national unscheduled absence rate of TSA staff on Thursday, January 3, 2019, was 4.8% compared to 6.3% last year, Thursday, January 4, 2018. So in fact, the national call out rate was higher a year ago than this year on that date."
Michael Bilello is the TSA assistant administrator for public affairs and acknowledged that there is a higher worker absence level since the shutdown, but he insisted in a social media post that air travel is still safe.
“Security standards have NOT and will NOT be compromised. TSA has and will continue to maintain security standards at our nation’s airports,” Bilello said.