NEWARK – Terminal C had to be locked down this morning, when more than 100 flights were canceled and dozens delayed, after officials realized a passenger had made it through a security checkpoint without being properly screened, officials said.
Service continued at Terminals A and B, but the lockdown at Terminal C, which resumed normal operations at noon, delayed flights and caused all passengers departing from that terminal to be visually checked again, said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Port Authority Police.
A separate, earlier incident at Terminal C caused officials to suspend screening of oversize baggage for just under an hour, before an Essex County bomb squad cleared the bag.
The three-hour lockdown, which began at 8:45 a.m., caused a massive backup at security checkpoints in the terminal. Hundreds of passengers waited in long lines that snaked from check points all the way back to stairways and escalators.
After a search, it was determined that the passenger departed Newark Liberty Airport on a United Airlines flight to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement. That flight landed in Cleveland without incident.
Normal screening operations resumed at Noon. But by then, the incident caused
more than 65 departing flights to be delayed, and more than 100 flights to be canceled, said Christen David, a United spokeswoman. David said the airline would work with passengers to book them onto new flights as soon as possible.
Della Fave said it was unclear just how the woman was improperly screened or how supervisors for the TSA at the terminal learned of the improper screening. Police determined the breach required the lockdown.
Planes that had left their gates after the improper screening had to be called back from the tarmac so that passengers on board could be checked again in an attempt to locate the woman, Della Fave said. He did not know how many passengers or flights were affected.
In the earlier incident, which occurred at about 6:30 a.m., a large checked bag was sent on to be loaded on board an aircraft before being properly screened, said a statement released by TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis. Officials closed the oversized baggage screening until the bag was found at 7:19 a.m., and the oversized baggage area was reopened. The bomb quad cleared the bag at 9:25am.
Terminal C is operated by United Airlines, which accounts for three quarters of all flights in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport.
Source: The Star Ledger