Flights to and from Los Angeles were stalled Friday, in some cases for hours, after a shooting that killed one TSA worker and wounded two others shut down terminals at one of the nation’s busiest airports.
The shooting, which took place at Terminal 3 at around 9:20 a.m. local time, prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to issue a ground stop for flights arriving at Los Angeles International Airport. Across the country, no flight destined for LAX was allowed to depart until after 1:30 p.m. EST. Flights already in the air were being allowed to land.
Passengers said police and airport officials were preventing them from moving between terminals. "They're holding us at Terminal 4, they won't let anyone past Terminal 5 and they're yelling and chasing after people who try to get by," said Jesse Proudman, 29, a tech company CEO. Proudman said his flight from LAX to Hong Kong "was probably not going to happen"
Actor James Franco, one of the delayed passengers, posted a photo online of himself looking out the window with the caption "At #lax Some ****tbag shot up the place."
Related: 'Mass exodus': Photos and tweets from inside airport
Delayed passengers sit on a baggage conveyer belt after a shooting incident Friday at Los Angeles International Airport.
Late Friday, the airport began allowing passengers back into Terminal 1 and 2, but Terminal 3 remained closed.
Travel experts recommended avoiding LAX for the rest of Friday and all weekend. "It's going to take them hours and hours to work through this," said business travel writer Joe Brancatelli. "Ask for a reroute to John Wayne, Burbank, Palm Springs, Ontario, or worst case scenario, San Diego."
Flights between San Francisco International Airport and LAX saw delays in both directions of up to two hours, said an airport spokesman. Two Southwest Airlines flights were canceled. The airport reported no changes in security procedures or increases in checkpoint wait times.
The FAA recommended passengers contact their individual airlines to determine their flight status.
All other flight operations at Los Angeles International Airport were held and all departure roadways were temporarily blocked by law enforcement with general public being held back.
Airlines that use Terminal 3 reported these changes and cancellations:
- JetBlue: All LAX arrivals and departures were moved to the Long Beach airport.
- Spirit: 12 flights to and from LAX were canceled.
- Frontier: All operations at LAX suspended, and the airline hoped to resume operations on Saturday.
- Allegiant: One flight scheduled through LAX was rescheduled for Saturday.
- Virgin America: All flights departing from Los Angeles through Friday evening were canceled. The airline waived change or travel fees through Nov. 15 for its passengers through LAX affected by the incident.
Some passengers took to social media to voice their frustrations with their flights being held, while others saw them as a source of relief. "Happy to have a delayed flight to LAX so they can deal with the shooting there," tweeted @RaqiyahMays. "This delay is a blessing."
Los Angeles is a major gateway for flights to Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Domestically, the largest cities served are: San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, San Jose, Calif., San Diego and Phoenix.
However, it is not a major connection point such as Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Minneapolis.
Officials said 746 flights were affected, 46 of which were diverted. The rest either were either held on the ground in Los Angeles or at the originating airport, said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports.
"This has been a trying day for everyone I know," Lindsey added.
Information from NBC News' Pete Williams, Andrew Blankstein, Erin McClam and Tracy Connor and the Associated Press was included in this report.
First published November 1 2013, 4:51 PM