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Operation at San Diego Int'l Airport resumes after security concern

San Diego International Airport sign on Harbor Drive on Aug. 12, 2019
Erik Anderson
San Diego International Airport sign on Harbor Drive on Aug. 12, 2019

Operations at Terminal 2 East and West at San Diego International Airport resumed shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday following a security scare. Grounded planes and crews and passengers had to be rescreened, an airport spokesperson said.

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) representative said thousands of people — passengers and crews — were asked to deplane and go through security screening again.

The incident happened around 12:25 p.m. when a passenger with a carry-on bag that was tagged for more screening walked into a secured area of the airport, TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers said.

“TSA officers began searching for the traveler and were not able to locate him,” she said in a statement to KPBS. “As a result, TSA made the decision to clear Terminal 2 West & East.”

Authorities then conducted a thorough sweep of the terminal, she said. During that time, all incoming and departing flights were suspended.

Courtesy of Jake Pham
A flight information display board showing flights that had been changed or delayed due to the security concern. San Diego International, Aug. 18, 2022.

Shortly after 3 p.m., the TSA gave the all-clear for planes to land and depart again and for TSA agents to begin the rescreening of airline crews and passengers.

Jake Pham, a traveler, shared a video with KPBS showing hundreds of people waiting in line while TSA resolved the issue. Pham was at the airport to take a flight to Houston.

Pham said he had arrived at the front of the TSA line when he was told no one else would be allowed into the security screening. Thirty minutes later, as the lines for TSA started to back up, he heard the announcement.

“The people in the terminal had to leave the terminal,” Pham said. “All of them had to leave the terminal and actually get into the back of the TSA line. So, I was lucky I was already in line at the front.”

While Pham didn’t have to leave since he hadn’t gone through security, those who did had to be rescreened. Pham waited in line for about an hour before he was allowed through.

Pham said some people who had to be rescreened were angry and confused. When passengers, crew and staff were allowed back into the terminal, some cheered.

The airport's website shows several departures and arrivals were delayed. To check your flight status, visit the airport website.

It is unclear at this time what was in the carry-on bag that prompted the TSA to tag it for further screening.

Updated: August 18, 2022 at 2:58 PM PDT
This is a developing story. Information will be added as it becomes available.
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