A college student's science project delayed flights Wednesday and left hundreds of travelers waiting at Eppley Airfield for several hours.
The Omaha Police Department's bomb squad was called after a suspicious-looking item was found in a carry-on bag shortly before noon at the airport's north checkpoint in Terminal B.
Screening operations were suspended, and the B concourse was evacuated. Operations were not disrupted in Terminal A, according to a Transportation Security Administration official.
The item was cleared and airport operations returned to normal about 2 p.m.
FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault said the item was a science experiment by a graduate student from Oregon. The student was believed to have been involved in an event at Creighton University.
A Creighton official said there was an apparatus competition held on the campus that was part of the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
Breault said the device was harmless, "but it did trigger the proper response due to its suspicious appearance."
Nine flights were delayed because of the incident, according to a TSA official. Flights continued to land and depart at the south terminal.
About 100 people stood outside the airport near the Southwest Airlines entrance at 1 p.m. One passenger waiting to check in had been told of a brief flight delay.
Inside, some travelers expressed frustration with the delay and how it was handled.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Angella Johnson of Burbank, Calif. "They are not properly communicating what the problem is and how long it will take."
Many of the travelers checked their phones or called loved ones to find out what was going on.
There were several announcements over the public address system, but some travelers complained that they were hard to hear.
Sean Callen, a former Marine from Nebraska who now lives in Texas, wasn't too put out by the delay. He said he had to sit on his plane about 25 minutes after landing before passengers were allowed off.
"I'd rather them look and not find anything than not look and wish they had," he said.
One woman waiting for her flight found a silver lining in the delay — the politeness of the local TSA workers.
"They say 'excuse me' here," she said. "You wouldn't get this in L.A. or D.C."
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