Los Angeles shooting grounds jets, causes flight delays

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Los Angeles International Airport was expected to slowly start returning to normal late Friday afternoon, but some passengers might still see their travels delayed through the weekend because of the flight disruptions that followed a fatal shooting inside one of the airport's terminals.
Flights heading to LAX, the nation's third busiest airport, were held on the ground Friday in the wake of a shooting that left a Transportation Security Administration agent dead. But flight tracking site FlightAware.com said that The Federal Aviation Administration would once again allow flights, headed to LAX from the western U.S., to take off starting at 5 p.m. EST.
Departures from LAX's Terminal 3, where the shooting occurred, as well as Terminals 1 and 2 were expected to resume at 4:30 p.m. EST, on Friday, FlightAware said. Flights were expected to begin arriving again at those terminals at 5 p.m. EST.
Still, some carriers believes those initial departing flights might be largely empty, says FlightAware's vice president, operations, Mark Duell. And though flights might largely be back on track by Saturday morning, "passengers may be delayed into (Saturday and Sunday( due to space available for rebooking,'' he said in an e-mail.
The shutdown of terminals at LAX along with the order for flights headed there to stay where they were affected travelers far beyond Los Angeles. Of the 1,144 flights scheduled to operate at LAX after 12:30 p.m. EST Friday, there were 65 canceled departures, and 61 canceled arrivals by the afternoon. Among departing flights, 113 were delayed, while 119 arrivals were delayed.
American and United were among the airlines to waive rebooking fees for those affected by the disruption at LAX. Virgin America, which has operations in Terminal 3, along with Southwest, JetBlue and several other carriers, said that passengers who were scheduled to fly to, from or through LAX on Friday could rebook through Saturday at no extra cost for travel through Nov. 15. Fliers could also get a credit or refund.
On Friday afternoon, Los Angeles officials were warning of extensive flight delays and telling those on the way to the airport that they might want to steer clear.
"We're encouraging you at this point to stay away from the airport,'' Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference, advising those already there to wait at nearby open terminals or even local hotels.
Airports in the region were beefing up security in the wake of the shooting. While Long Beach and San Francisco airports were open, police in those cities said they were boosting their presence "in an abundance of caution," according to San Francisco police. Passengers were encouraged to arrive at those airports early because of the extra security.
Other airports across the U.S. were also watching the situation closely.
Officials for Boston's Logan Airport said in a statement on Friday that it "maintains an appropriate level of security and is monitoring the situation in Los Angeles with our law enforcement partners in the intelligence community.''
Perry Cooper, a spokesman for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said, "We're keeping a close eye.'' Their law enforcement officials were keeping in close contact with the Transportation Security Administration and FBI.
Contributing: Bart Jansen
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