Crowds at Terminal 2
Passengers crowd baggage claim at Terminal 2. Photo courtesy San Diego International Airport.

A security breach involving an unscreened piece of luggage prompted an evacuation of San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 Thursday along with a several-hour suspension of its incoming and outgoing flights.

Authorities cleared the public out of the terminal at about 12:30 p.m., after a traveler entered the post-screening area of the airport with a carry-on bag that had been identified for an additional check, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

“TSA officers began searching for the traveler and were not able to locate him,” the agency reported in a prepared statement. “As a result, TSA made the decision to clear Terminal 2 West & East.”

The Federal Aviation Administration, meanwhile, ordered a “ground stop” suspending departures and arrivals associated with the terminal.

The TSA directed all passengers in the post-security areas of Terminal 2 – including those who already had boarded planes — to be sent back for re-screening.

Officers, some with service dogs, then began a sweep of the terminal and its gate areas.

At 3 p.m., the FAA lifted the ground stop, clearing the way for a resumption of departures and arrivals out of the terminal, according to airport officials.

The agency declared that security operations at the airport had “returned to normal” as of 5:15 p.m. TSA officials estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 travelers had to go through security checks a second time due to the incident.

Updated at 4:35 p.m., 5:20 p.m. and 5:40 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022

City News Service contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.