Columbia airport experiences malfunction with new checked bag inspection system

Posted 5/5/23

“With new software and technology upgrades will unfortunately bring with it some issues.”

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Columbia airport experiences malfunction with new checked bag inspection system


“With new software and technology upgrades will unfortunately bring with it some issues.”

That’s what Mike Gula, executive director of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, had to say in a statement about an unanticipated hiccup with the airport’s newly installed inline baggage system that cropped up at about 4:15 a.m. on May 5.

“The Checked Baggage Inspection System (also referred to as CBIS) ... malfunctioned,” the airport said in a statement.

The airport released a second statement that the inspection system was back up and running as of 2:32 p.m. with normal operations having resumed.

The inspection step is an automated component of the new inline baggage system, which allows travelers to check bags at ticket counters instead of having to carry them to bulky scanners, which have now been removed from the terminal. The airport unveiled the new system, which had been in progress since last year, at a press conference marking S.C. Aviation Week on April 25.

“Checked bags that would have been screened by the system had to be manually screened by TSA agents,” the airport explained of the trouble the malfunction caused. “While this situation was addressed immediately by TSA agents and CAE staff, several bags did not get processed in time to be loaded onto departing flights.”

Flights affected include: 

  • American Airlines (5557) – 5:20 - CLT (Charlotte)
  • American Airlines (2646) – 5:43 – DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth)
  • American Airlines (5603) – 6:04 – DCA (Regan National/Washington, D.C.)
  • American Airlines (5275) – 7:00 - CLT (Charlotte)
  • United Airlines (3720) – 6:33 – ORD (Chicago)
  • Delta Air Lines (1435) – 5:25 – ATL (Atlanta)
  • Delta Air Lines (5524) – 6:00 – LGA (New York City)
  • Delta Air Lines (1767) – 6:59 – ATL (Atlanta)

“At this time, all bags that did not get loaded onto their intended flights have been screened and will be rerouted to their final destinations,” the airport said. 

Kim Crafton, the airport’s director of marketing and air service development, told the Chronicle that the technicians worked tirelessly to get the system working again. While the system was down, bags had to be inspected by hand by TSA agents, with travelers still dropping checked bags at ticket counters.

“We don't foresee any other delays like we did this morning,” Crafton said, explaining that the airport continued encouraging passengers to arrive two hours ahead of time for flights as it always does. “Just know that if there is then we will work with our airline partners to rectify any issues that we see moving forward.”

The issue occurred on a day of celebration for the airport, as it marked the first flight in its restarted American Airlines service to New York City with a Cinco De Mayo-themed gate party this afternoon. Crafton said that she doesn’t anticipate the problems with the checked baggage system impacting the relaunch.

The airport now offers three nonstop service options to New York.

“We did not anticipate something of this magnitude because we have been preparing and planning for the implementation of this system for quite some time,” Crafton said. “So this is an unfortunate incident that happened and we are doing everything we can to rectify this situation and get the system back up and running.”

The $20 million inline baggage system is one of a variety of upgrades the airport has done in recent years and continues to implement.

In 2020, it installed a new system of lights to help people find open spaces in its parking garage. Last fall, it unveiled new ticket counters with a system that allows airlines to more easily shift or add counters as they change the services they offer. 

Moving forward, with $5 million in federal help, it's set to upgrade its TSA checkpoints. The airport is also set to do airfield work, concrete and taxiway improvements, and add a brand-new customs facility in the near future.

“With the system failures resolved and the system operating as designed, we don’t foresee any future glitches to the CBIS system,” Gula said in a second statement. “For all passengers affected by today’s incident, please know that we will do everything we can to make this right.”

columbia metropolitan airport, sc flight delays, inline baggage system


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