An unattended bag led to the evacuation of the Aberdeen Regional Airport and delayed arrival of passengers to the terminal Thursday night.
Police responded to the security threat at the airport shortly after 10 p.m., according to a news release from the Aberdeen Police Department. Earlier in the evening, a male arrived at the airport, stowed a suitcase in a corner of the terminal and immediately left, the release said.
Aberdeen Transportation Director Cody Roggatz said both the Aberdeen Police Department and federal Transportation Security Administration officials evaluated the suitcase that was left at the airport in the early evening.
The airport was immediately evacuated, according to police. The SkyWest flight scheduled to arrive at 10:33 p.m. was held on the taxiway, police Capt. Eric Duven said.
"Given the situation, we kept the plane and passengers away from the terminal on the taxiway," Duven said.
"I made the decision to keep everyone where they were," Roggatz said of the passengers who were held on the plane. "I was in communication with the captain and gave him the information. We had an alternate place to park them and get (passengers) to their vehicles."
The suitcase was evaluated in cooperation with bomb experts elsewhere, Duven said, and eventually searched. No suspicious or harmful items were found.
Once the search was completed, about an hour and a half later, the arriving SkyWest jet was cleared to deplane passengers.
Duven said police were able to identify and interview the owner of the suitcase, who was scheduled to depart Friday morning.
"He was not deemed an aviation threat and was able to fly out this morning," Duven said Friday.
Police do not plan to file charges. However, when the man arrived at the airport Friday morning, he was met and questioned by TSA officials and police who explained to him his error and the proper protocol for checking in bags.
Roggatz said the situation is definitely a reminder that leaving bags unattended at an airport terminal is a bad idea. Flight regulations recommend arriving about an hour before a flight's scheduled departure to check in.
Information about what items are allowed in a suitcase can be found at tsa.gov.
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