Richmond Airport Reopens After Receiving Threat

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Passengers waited outside, roughly a quarter-mile from the terminal.

    Hundreds of travelers were stranded Tuesday morning after a threatening phone call prompted a 3-hour evacuation of the Richmond International Airport.

    Airport spokesman Troy Bell said the call was received at 6:10 a.m. Sweeps of the airport's terminals and parking decks by federal, state and local authorities did not find anything, he said, and the terminal was reopened to passengers about 9:40 a.m.

    Travelers who missed their flights swarmed ticket counters, and lines more than 30 deep queued up at security checkpoints.

    ``Typically the ticket counters don't look like that even during peak holiday periods,'' Bell said.

    Some passengers said the delay was frustrating, but for the most part they took it in stride. Those who were already inside when the call came in stood along access roads outside the terminal. Police directed arriving travelers to more distant parking lots with instructions to wait.

    ``The hard part is we've got to make a connection in Detroit,'' said Steve Froseth, who was dropping off his wife for a flight to their hometown of Denver. ``I don't see that happening now. If we had a direct flight, it wouldn't be so bad.''

    For Fred and Rosa Burford of Charlottesville, the main priority was reassuring their children -- first-time fliers Abby, 7, and Joey, 4 -- that everything would be OK.

    ``They understand what a threat is,'' said Rosa, who was taking the children to see her family in the Dominican Republic while her husband headed to Atlanta to see his ailing father. ``They're very scared. They're asking, `Is it going to blow up? Is there going to be a fire?'''

    Katie Schexnayder of Richmond arrived at the airport to catch an 8 a.m. flight to Nashville, Tenn., only to be told shortly thereafter that the terminal had been evacuated because of a bomb threat. She said people were calm, and airport officials were friendly and willing to answer questions.

    Airport employees walked or drove around, handing out bottled water to travelers.

    Passengers flying out of Richmond were not the only ones affected. State Police Sgt. Thomas Molar said five inbound flights were permitted to land but were held short of the terminal.

    There are few arrivals in the morning; a threat later in the day could have been a much bigger disruption, Bell said.

    Steve and Suzy Pierce of Sacramento, who came to Richmond for their great-niece's high school graduation, said their flight was held on the tarmac at the Atlanta airport for about 45 minutes because of the evacuation.

    ``It was the last leg of our flight, so it didn't matter much,'' Steve Pierce said as he picked up the couple's luggage from baggage claim. ``The only time you get nervous is when you have a connecting flight.''

    The exact nature of the threatening call was not disclosed, but Molnar said it was deemed serious enough to evacuate the terminals. He said the Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.

    Bell said airport officials were working with airlines to determine how many flights were delayed, canceled or diverted.