OAKLAND – An Oakland airport terminal was evacuated Saturday after it was determined that passengers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight arriving from Seattle had passed through a broken metal detector.
The problem was identified after the plane had already taken off, said Oakland International Airport spokesman George Turner.
An unknown number of people crossed through the north security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, operated by Alaska Airlines, before the malfunction was detected by a National Guardsman, said airport spokesman Bob Parker.
The Oakland-bound plane landed without incident, but as part of the airport’s post Sept. 11 security plan, all travelers in that terminal were evacuated until passengers aboard the plane could be rescreened and allowed to reboard connecting flights, Turner said.
He was unsure how many people were on the plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Hundreds of people were forced to stand outside in high winds and drizzling rains before being sent back inside to go through the check-in process again. The incident created delays and long lines that wrapped around part of the airport. Some passengers were yanked off airplanes they had already boarded and forced to stand in line again.
“To my knowledge, that’s the first time the new procedure has been used,” Turner said. “Fortunately, it’s today and not tomorrow. It’s a fairly light travel day today.”
Meanwhile, at Seattle-Tacoma, travelers were forced to evacuate all concourses and passenger flights were delayed at least three hours because of the broken metal detector.