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Phoenix Airport Screening 'Operational' After Glitch Leaves 3,000 Bags Stuck

More than 3,000 pieces of luggage were left behind as their passengers departed after a server problem stopped an automated screening system.
Sky Harbor International Airport
Baggage sits in the special events parking lot, Thursday, May 12, 2016, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. More than 3,000 checked bags missed their outbound flights in Phoenix because of a problem with a screening system at Sky Harbor International Airport, officials with Transportation Security Administration said.AP

Phoenix’s airport was recovering late Thursday after problems with a TSA automated luggage screening system resulted in a pileup of more than 3,000 bags being left behind, transportation officials said.

The problems at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport began at around 6:45 a.m. and involved “unprecedented technical issues” involving a computer server that allows automated screening, Transportation Security Administration spokesman Nico Melendez said.

Thousands of bags and other pieces of luggage were stored in an airport parking lot in 90-degree heat, NBC affiliate KPNX reported.

Related: Congress Rips TSA for Long Lines, Abuse, 'Smurfing' Bonus Practice

The automated system screened checked bags for explosives, Melendez said. Other methods, including using dogs, were used to screen bags.

Airlines arranged for bags to be driven to airports in Los Angeles and San Diego, and then flown to their destinations, the station said. An airport official said the baggage backup did not result in any flight delays.

Southwest sent 1,500 bags by truck to Las Vegas where the bags would be screened and then sent to customers, the airline said in a statement. It called the situation "very challenging circumstances" and said there could be delays in reunited passengers with their luggage.

By Thursday night, the TSA said baggage screening operations at the airport were operational.

“We will continue testing the system throughout the night in preparation for tomorrow's scheduled operations,” the TSA said.

Related: Lawmakers Tell Airlines to Drop Baggage Fees to Shorten TSA Lines

The foul-up at the Phoenix airport came on the same day that the TSA was slammed at a Congressional hearing for long lines at the nation's airports and retaliation against workers who complain about poor treatment.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, took particular exception to a series of bonuses totaling $90,000 to assistant administrator Kelly Hoggan, which Chaffetz said was paid out even while a part of the TSA "was in total failure."