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April 5, 2006
Albany -- An argument over the telephone-- over a lost piece of luggage -- between an angry Lee County man and an A.S.A. Delta luggage manager led to the evacuation of the Albany airport.
Shortly after noon, everyone was told to evacaute the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport terminal, because of a phone call to a Delta reservationist in Atlanta.
Airport Director Yvette Aehle said "A person that was angry that his bag was late had made a terroristic threat about a bag inside the terminal. So of course we had to evacuate the terminal."
Small planes continued to land, but A.S.A.'s two o-clock flight remained in Atlanta. Airport and T.S.A. Security officials and passengers waited in the parking lot.
Passenger Jim Fowler said, "I've been to some of the really bad parts of the world where something could happen. It's a shame to see that leaking over into our country."
Two Military bomb detection dogs from the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Aldo and Kastor, were brought in to check the Terminal. U.S.M.C. Military Police Sgt. Christopher Bello said, "The dogs searched the whole entire building, searched everything in the building and there was nothing there the dogs responded on."
While all this was going on, Richard Kehani stood by with FBI, T.S.A. and Police Investigators. Kehani flew back from India Saturday, and his granddaughter's luggage was lost. Five days of frustration blew up on the phone with an A.S.A. luggage manager.
When asked if he ever said there was a bomb, or anything about a bomb, Kehani said, "No, I just told her 'I wish someone throw a bomb at your place.' I say the word like that, a figure of speech."
The bomb dogs found nothing, and the airport was re-opened. The bag that caused the alert was found.
Kehani was questioned by FBI and TSA Investigators, and they did not arrest him. But Kehani was still mad. "I will be really glad, I will pray for them that they should go bankrupt, you can say that too."
The A.S.A. flight was delayed about an hour and a half, but the passengers say they feel safe flying.
Passenger Lee Clinton said "It's aggravating of course, but as long as they can get me to Chicago safely I appreciate it."
Airport security officials remind passengers that any mention of the word "bomb," even on the telephone with airlines personnel, will be taken seriously.
Federal security directors from TSA's Savannah office were at the Albany Airport during the bomb alert. They were there to plan a future security exercise but took notes while this real threat was going on.
And Kehani isn't alone in having problems with A.S.A. That airline comes in with the nation's worst ranking of the 17 surveyed for the 2006 Airline Quality Rating.