NASHVILLE, TN (WKRN) – The luggage of around 380 Southwest Airlines passengers was sprayed with sewage-tainted water at the Nashville International Airport Thursday morning.
An airport spokesman told NBC4 sister station WKRN-TV a toilet overflowed in a women’s bathroom around 5 a.m. after someone stuffed paper towels in the toilet. The water soaked the bathroom floor and leaked down onto a secure baggage handling area.
The water then sprayed a lot of bags as they passed by on a conveyor belt. As many as 380 bags got wet, some more than others.
The bags were held so they could be treated and cleaned, according to Tom Jurkovich, Vice President of Communications. He told WKRN-TV no one was exposed, and they are not sure how contaminated the water was, but it did come from a toilet.
“You have to act like it is, as a practical matter,” Jurkovich explained.
Ten flights were delayed due to the problem.
Southwest passenger Kate Riley told WKRN-TV she did not know her bag was involved until hours later.
“We were in Nashville, and they came on right before we boarded and said, ‘Oh, we’re having some issues with the luggage. Don’t worry. We’re getting all the bags on; there’s just an issue. But we’re just gonna load up and we’re gonna take off,’” she recalled.
Riley said her flight was delayed but did take off for Ft. Lauderdale. Passengers did not discover their luggage was missing until they went to baggage claim in Florida.
“And the issue is, things happen. I mean, if a pipe bursts and our bags are covered in sewage, OK. But why did they board us and make us leave?” Riley questioned. “People had issues that we could’ve dealt with in Nashville. They knew that getting us on the plane, letting us happily fly out of Nashville with no luggage.”
Riley said the airline offered her $100 per day for the trip. She was also told she can claim restitution.
WKRN-TV has reached out to Southwest Airlines for more information and has yet to hear back.
This is not the first time a toilet has overflowed and led to a similar situation at the Nashville airport. It also happened on June 1 just two months ago.
The airport is now looking at making structural changes to the drainage system in the bathroom so a leak doesn’t happen again.