LAX Terminal Evacuated, Flights Canceled After Security Issue Involving Southwest

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Damage to a major power line at Los Angeles International Airport was being repaired Thursday following the evacuation of a terminal and a series of power outages the night before — all leading to more than a dozen flight cancellations.

Passengers were told to leave Terminal 1 beginning about 6 a.m., resulting in 11 flight cancellations and 15 delays for Southwest Airlines Thursday morning, officials said.

Several flights had already been canceled or delayed due to power outages at three terminals Wednesday evening.

An airline had given passengers with canceled flights access to their checked bags, resulting in prohibited items being brought into the secure area of the airport, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Stephanie Sampson, an LAX spokeswoman, said that security breach by Southwest led to the evacuation.

“In order to make sure that no prohibited items made it back into the sterile area, the TSA made the decision to re-screen all of the passengers and do a sweep of the terminal,” Sampson said.

LAX officials were still working with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to repair damage to the primary power line that serves the airport by Thursday afternoon, officials said. That line’s failure caused the outages.

Earlier in the morning, passengers had to be re-screened once the terminal was completely cleared, and security operations went back to normal by about 9:30 a.m., according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The re-screenings had started shortly before 7 a.m. as employees were let back into the building. At 8:25 a.m., LAX announced re-screening wait times were expected to be about 45 minutes.

Southwest passengers were being told by LAX officials to check their flight status and allow extra time for boarding. Meanwhile, the airline’s passengers on arriving flights were told to stay inside the planes until re-screenings begin.

Terminals 1, 7 and 8 went several hours without electricity between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 10:05 p.m. on Wednesday — even as the airport attempted to use a backup system, officials said.

All departing Southwest flights and two United Airlines flights were canceled due to the outages while other planes were left stuck on the tarmac.

In total, 21 flights were canceled and at least another nine were diverted, LAX officials said.

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