“He asked, ‘Where is carousel 4?’ — a pretty innocuous question,” said Barnes.
The aftermath of that question caused an unidentified man to run past the Oakland International Airport security perimeter. This caused officials to security processing for two hours at the airport.
Passengers patiently and not so patiently waited for the search of what one passenger called “Our friend, the dumb ass.” The search of both terminals and of planes waiting to take off was unsuccessful. This elusive man was not found.
Those two hours turned into an evacuation of thousands. Authorities shut down Terminal 2 in search of the man. A mass of people waited on the sidewalk and terminal road, which police had closed previously.
The situation began around 11 a.m. when the man approached an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy who was guarding an exit lane — where arriving passengers exit the secure terminal and enter the baggage claim area — and asked him a question, said airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes.
Airport Spokeswoman Joanne Holloway confirmed that Eleven departing flights and about a dozen arriving flights experienced delays because of the incident, that would cause issues with 50 connecting flights in other cities
“We’re anticipating that nothing will be delayed more than two hours, and then we’ll be back on schedule tomorrow (Saturday) morning,” said Holloway.
When checking with Southwest Airlines, Southwest spokeswoman Beth Harbin said the disturbance had only a minimal impact. The maximum time for delay was about one hour.
Harbin said that at the time of the security breach, Southwest airlines had four aircraft on the ground. The breach affected a total of seven flights. Four of those flights were on the ground and three were either shuttling in for arrival or preparing to leave.
By 1 p.m., the man was not found and airport officials reopened the security checkpoints and flights were allowed to take off again. By 2 p.m., traffic and security lines were moving at a normal pace.
The man was never found, police said, but by 1 p.m. the airport was reopened and flights were taking off again. By 2 p.m., vehicular traffic was moving in and out of the airport at a normal pace and security lines, while still long, were moving as well.
Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. J.D. Nelson said authorities believe that the man did not get on a departing flight because those flights were searched before people were allowed to board.
Several passengers at the airport said the evacuation was a hassle but was handled fairly well.