Passengers were forced to fly without suitcases after a TSA foul-up at the airport in Phoenix. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt | License Photo
PHOENIX, May 13 (UPI) -- Airline passengers were waiting to be reunited with their personal belongings Friday after more than 3,000 suitcases were dumped in a parking lot at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
The Transport Security Administration blamed a glitch in the baggage-screening system.
The problems began at around 6:45 a.m. on Thursday and were caused by "unprecedented technical issues" involving a computer server which allows automated screening of bags for explosives, said TSA spokesman Nico Melendez.
When everything is working properly, about 10 percent of all checked bags are hand-searched by TSA officers.
It resulted in angry passengers being forced to travel empty-handed while their bags were stored in an airport parking lot in 90-degree heat.
"I've heard every swear word known to man in the last 15 minutes," said Cody Desjadon, 22, of Prescott, Arizona, who was traveling to see relatives in Missouri with his girlfriend, Hannah Brinser, 19.
They were told that their luggage could take two to three days to get to their destination.
"Our trip is three days," Desjadon said.
Airlines arranged for bags to be driven to airports in Los Angeles and San Diego, and then flown to their destinations. A Phoenix airport official said the baggage backup did not result in any flight delays.
By late Thursday the technical issues had been resolved.
A spokesman for Southwest, which sent 1,500 bags by truck to Las Vegas, described the situation as "very challenging."
The foul-up at Phoenix came on the same day that the TSA was slammed at a Congressional hearing for long lines at the nation's airports.