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TSA bag screening system at Phoenix Sky Harbor ‘operational’ after glitch causes mess

(Twitter Photo/@MarcyJonesFox10)

PHOENIX — The Transportation Security Administration bag screening system is “operational” after a glitch on Thursday delayed thousands of pieces of luggage at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

According to a tweet from a TSA spokesperson, the systems are “operational” but are still undergoing testing.

The TSA said it first noticed the problem with its explosive screening system about 6:45 a.m. The agency called the issue “unprecedented” and said it only affected Phoenix.

A backup system was put in place that involved canine units and other means. The TSA said the glitch was not a safety issue. However, the alternative process is more time-consuming than their automated system.

Checked bags were delayed reaching their destinations and those awaiting processing were stored in a cell phone lot during the backlog.

Airport officials said they are advising passengers to avoid checking luggage if possible and arrive at the airport early.

“The airport and the airlines are advising passengers to carry on as much as they can to avoid checking bags,” Julie Rodriguez with the airport said.

In a statement, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said the airline is shipping 1,500 bags via truck to other airports in Las Vegas to be screened.

American Airlines said it was working with the TSA at Sky Harbor to process bags to “minimize disruptions to our customers,” but is not trucking bags to other locations. The airline said it was providing food and drinks to TSA agents who stayed past their shifts to help with the screening process.

In a series of tweets, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the debacle “incredibly frustrating” and “unacceptable.”

Flights are departing as scheduled.

KTAR’s Tyler Klaus and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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