ROMULUS (WWJ) – Metro Airport’s North Terminal was evacuated Monday morning after a suspicious item was spotted at a security checkpoint.
Airport spokesman Mike Conway said the evacuation was ordered as a precaution after the item was detected in an x-ray machine at a
Transportation Security Administration screening checkpoint just before 6 a.m.
The item was removed by the bomb squad and taken off the property as one person was questioned by authorities. Sources talking to WWJ Newsradio 950 said the object, reportedly some kind of “decorative item,” was found to be non-explosive.
There were no injuries and the terminal reopened before 8:30 a.m.
Evacuated passengers were ushered, for a time, over to the old Smith Terminal which has been vacant since the North Terminal opened several years.
Flying above the airport in Chopper 950, WWJ’s Lance Howard said several hundred people could be seen dragging their luggage south down Rogell Drive.
Some of those arriving at the vacant Smith Terminal were aggravated; others were concerned.
WWJ Newsradio 950 Mike Campbell spoke with Greg Bigoni of Toronto who was dropping off family members for spring break. He said he’s seen a concourse evacuated before, but never an entire terminal.
“I mean, I’m in my seventies; I’ve flown a lot, and I’ve never ever, ever seen it. In Toronto, normally they wouldn’t do this,” Bigoni said. “I gotta get to Toledo; I’ve got a grandson that’s 3-years-old … I’ve got to babysit him for the week.”
Also among those travelers delayed were a couple of nuns who were praying they’d make it to Portland for a noon appointment.
Sister Andrews and Mother Assumpta of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist were in good spirits as they waited out the delay playing cards.
“You might as well just enjoy. You know, rarely do we just have time to just sit,” said Sister Andrews said.
Airport employees were also affected, including AirTran flight attendant Mary-Therese Bills, who was supposed to be headed out on an early flight to Jamaica.
“They just walked in and they just put their hand up and just said you need to exit the building,” said Bills. “I said, ‘I need to get to work, I’m a flight attendant.’ And they said, ‘I’m sorry, you’re going to need to leave the building.'”
One traveler calling the WWJ Newsroom described the evacuation as chaotic.
“There were some unaccompanied minors left on an aircraft The chaperons got off to get some beverages and now are left here while the unaccompanied minors on the flight headed to Miami,” she said.
WWJ Legal Anylist Charlie Langdon said, according to TSA officials, they do not compensate travelers who are delayed for security reasons — and that would include an evacuation.
Langton said many airlines will try to accommodate passengers who are delayed by the TSA but allowing them to take the next available flight.
The 10 airlines that fly out of the North Terminal are Air Canada, Air Tran, American, Frontier, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, Southwest, Spirit, United and US Airways.