Flight delayed 3 hours after fake grenade rolls out of passenger’s bag

The Associated Press
Monday December 17, 2001

SAN DIEGO – An American Airlines flight about to take off for Chicago was delayed more than three hours on the runway Sunday after a fake grenade used to test security screening rolled out of a carry-on bag. 

A woman was in custody and authorities were trying to determine how she ended up with a bag belonging to a security screener that contained the phony grenade, said Rita Vandergaw, spokeswoman for the Unified Port of San Diego, which runs Lindbergh Field. 

The fake grenade is used as a prop to test the security screening system. 

The passenger may have inadvertently picked up the bag at a security checkpoint, Vandergaw said. 

“She made a big mistake one way or the other,” Vandergaw said. “Whether it was inadvertent or not, she shouldn’t have had that bag.” 

Flight 788 was scheduled to depart for Chicago at 1:30 p.m. 

After boarding the plane, the passenger pulled a jacket out of the bag and the phony grenade rolled down the aisle, Vandergaw said. 

The pilot brought the MD-80 to a halt and city firefighters and Department of Defense crews were sent to the scene. A nearby street briefly was closed. 

The fake grenade was removed and the plane returned to the gate. All passengers were taken off the aircraft and rescreened. The airplane was rechecked before it departed at 4:45 p.m. 

Further information about the woman wasn’t immediately available.