A bizarre security mishap at Munich Airport on Saturday caused the evacuation of two terminals and the cancellation of nearly an entire day’s schedule of flights, affecting 32,000 travelers and ultimately stranding 20,000 at the airport overnight. German officials are reviewing how this strange incident took place.
Munich Airport saw a chaotic scene on Saturday, July 28, when a female passenger unknowingly set off a chain of events that resulted in the entire airport shutting down for ten hours.
At security, the passenger’s carry-on luggage had been flagged as having excess liquids, so she was instructed to return it to the check-in counter. After checking the bag, she went back to the same security line as before. Though the checkpoint was now closed, the passenger walked through anyway, incorrectly assuming that she did not need to be checked again.
About 15 minutes later, at 6 AM, her actions were noticed by airport security as they reviewed surveillance tapes. The German Federal Police (Bundespolizei), who enforce border control, were notified, and the airport shut down all flight operations and began evacuating and searching two terminals at 6.45 AM.
Throughout the course of the day, over 330 flights into and out of Munich Airport were cancelled, affecting an estimated 32,000 passengers. The disruption was not merely contained to Munich either; Lufthansa’s second hub at Frankfurt Airport was significantly affected as well. Though the airport resumed operations around 5 PM, nearly 20,000 passengers were unable to be rebooked that day and ended up being stranded overnight.
The Federal Police and Lufthansa are placing the blame squarely on the airport’s third-party security firm, SGM, and three individuals on duty that day have been fired. Of further concern is how long it took for both SGM and Federal Police to review the tapes and to ground all flights after the incident occurred.
As for the original passenger? She was able to board her flight and take off in the meantime, completely unaware of the chaos she’d left in her wake.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]