Orange County News

John Wayne Airport Terminal C luggage problems

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just in time for the holidays, John Wayne Airport's new Terminal C is up, but not exactly running smoothly.

A failed baggage handling system is creating more legwork for some passengers. Will it be fixed in time for the Thanksgiving crush?

A celebrated opening with one glaring problem: the baggage handling system at John Wayne Airport's new Terminal C is not working.

"The system overall has not been certified yet by TSA," said Jenny Wedge, a spokesperson for John Wayne Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration says it's a technical issue.

"We want to make sure that as the bags are introduced to the system, we get them screened and onto the right aircraft, and if it's unable to do that we just can't certify the system, because we don t have assurances that every bag is being screened," said TSA Spokesperson Nico Melendez.

While crews work on the problem, tape covers up the names of airlines Southwest and Frontier that would normally help passengers in the new multi-million-dollar terminal.

Passengers with those airlines who have baggage to check must instead bring their luggage next door to Terminal B.

"Personally I don't mind. I like walking. But for a lot of people it's going to be a hardship," said Orange resident Stacy Thornton.

"It's so small compared to other airports, I'd walk a few yards to get there. So no problem for me. It's better than LAX," said Laguna Niguel resident Greg Walsh.

"I can't travel without checking a bag. It'll work out just fine," said Minneapolis resident Nancy Dierdorf. "Glad I allowed plenty of time."

Others wonder why the terminal opened without everything in place.

"If they open the terminal they should have it all in order and ready to go," said Vancouver resident Carla Keller.

Airport spokesperson Jenny Wedge says the problem surfaced over the weekend. The baggage handling system was among the last to go in and be tested.

"Sometimes it takes a few practice runs to get it right," said Wedge. "The timing of this project, being part of an overall improvement program, it's just where it fell in the process, and although we had hoped to pass certification the first time, the timing just didn't work out."

Airport officials say they hope to have the problem fixed by next week, Thanksgiving, but admit it could take two weeks.

Those with only carryon luggage are not affected.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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