Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) was thrown into chaos on Sunday evening due to a bomb scare caused by two suspicious bags found near the ticket counter of Alaska Airlines. The upper drive for departures was shut down and the north area of the airport was evacuated after the bags were discovered.
Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Gervais Joubert said that bomb technicians and Port of Seattle police rushed to the site to examine the bags. When opened, the bags were found to contain scuba and fishing gear. Officers declared the area safe thereafter.
However, the lockout led to a ground stop at the airport until 7:45 p.m., causing 161 delays and three cancellations, according to data on FlightAware. Operations returned to normal at SeaTac Airport by 8 p.m. after the authorities ended their investigation and the objects in question were rendered harmless.
Police Investigate Unattended Luggage at Alaska Airlines’ Check-in Counter
A bomb disposal robot, along with a bomb unit operator, was used to investigate a suspicious bag found at Alaska Airlines’ check-in counter of SeaTac.
The unattended bag triggered fear and panic among travelers, leading to a partial shutdown of the departures terminal, including some entrances and exits and departures lanes.
Peter McGraw, a spokesperson for Port of Seattle, confirmed that Alaska and American Airlines’ ticketing counters were evacuated, and police pushed onlookers further and further away until they reached a safe distance.
Kristin Sharp, mother of Emma Sharp, an airport traveler heading home to Alaska, said that she encountered a sense of anxiety among the passengers. She reported seeing the police car and was curious. Then, she overheard some people talking about an unattended bag or something, which got her suspicious.
Kristin Sharp added that police rolled in on either four wheelers, or the Segways, and called out, “Everybody listen up! All of the Alaska passengers move.” Initially, it was just down past American, and then they kept saying farther down by Southwest. So they came in and yelled at everybody, got their attention.
Travelers who witnessed the scene said it was a chaotic and frustrating experience at the airport, which caused significant delays and residual impacts on several areas of Operation.
Bomb Scare Uncovers False Alarm and Leads to Hours of Frustration
The authorities declared a false alarm after examining the contents of two abandoned bags found near the ticket counter of Alaska Airlines. However, it took hours for the situation to be declared safe, which left travelers feeling drained.
Emma Sharp, who was waiting to board a flight home from SeaTac, said that people were wandering all over the place, trying to see what was going on, but also trying to stay a safe distance away because they did not know what could be coming.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport encouraged travelers to give themselves extra time on Sunday night, and Alaska Airlines suggested that passengers check their flight status before arriving at the airport.
The airport fully reopened shortly before 8 p.m. after police concluded their investigation and after the objects in question had been rendered harmless. Nonetheless, it may take time for operations to return to normal, and residual impacts are still possible.
The Federal Aviation Administration is asking all passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to check with their airlines to see if their flights are impacted.
In conclusion, the incident caused significant disruption and frustration to travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. While the authorities acted out of an abundance of caution to safeguard the public, the false alarm shows the importance of having appropriate protocols in place for handling suspicious items at airports.