Stray bag shuts down airport
Published: Monday, December 22, 2008 at 8:54 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 22, 2008 at 12:51 p.m.
The Gainesville Regional Airport reopened at about noon today after a piece of abandoned luggage was reclaimed by a passenger.
The airport terminal had been evacuated shortly before 8:30 a.m. after a piece of luggage was apparently abandoned near the recently renovated concession area.
Gainesville Police blocked non-travelers from entering the Gainesville Regional Airport as a precaution and called in the Alachua County Sheriff’’s Office bomb squad. The Transportation Security Administration took control of the scene and ordered all non-essential personnel out of the area.
There were about 30 employees but few passengers in the terminal at the time it was evacuated because the flight, which was due in around 9 a.m., had been cancelled earlier for unrelated mechanical reasons.
While the bomb squad was preparing to examine the luggage, a plane from Charlotte N.C. touched down. Departing passengers were picked up a few steps from the plane by RTS buses and driven to the long term parking lot area. The return flight to Charlotte was cancelled and after re-fueling the plane lifted off without taking on any passengers.
The passenger who allegedly abandoned the luggage returned to the airport by 11:30 a.m. and was escorted into the terminal to reclaim his bag and answer questions from police. It was unknown whether then man would face any charges.
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