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Dec 20

Airport responds to Terminal A emergency

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Communications Office

In the wee hours of Monday morning, a hot water line ruptured in Terminal A at Mineta San José International Airport (SJC). Water flowed from the pedestrian bridge where the line was located, causing flooding in security screening and baggage claim, and impacting the baggage handling systems and other critical infrastructure.

The good news was there were no passengers in the building at 2:15 a.m. when the water started flowing.

The bad news was only a few SJC staff were on site who were available to shut off the water as quickly as possible, assess the damage and its impact on operations, begin the cleanup, and start helping passengers who would soon be arriving for their flights.

No question, the emergency seriously impaired airport operations. Although SJC remained open, Terminal A was partially closed, forcing most passengers to go to Terminal B. The Airport quickly brought in shuttle buses to Terminal A to transport travelers, and staff was at the curb directing passengers, meeters and greeters, and tenant employees where to go. Several flights were delayed and a few were cancelled.

Teamwork was critical during the response. Airport and TSA staff worked closely to devise temporary work-arounds for the security checkpoint process in Terminal B to handle the extra crush of passengers and baggage. Fire and Police helped manage the situation, begin the cleanup, and assist in customer service. Everybody pitched in to get customers to their flights on time.

Terminal A Checkpoint

Amazingly, by 4:15 Monday afternoon, SJC officials announced the re-opening of the Terminal A exit lane and the Terminal A baggage claim. Passengers arriving on airlines located at Terminal A could now use the pedestrian bridge to get to the Terminal A baggage carousels. Four security checkpoint lanes had been opened.

By 5:30 Tuesday morning, passenger operations were fully restored in Terminal A in time for the early morning bank of flights. The cause is still under investigation, but a preliminary assessment suggests that a failed seismic joint in the pipeline caused the flooding.

“I am incredibly proud of the quick response, coordination and commitment that SJC staff and our partners showed to get us back to normal operations,” said Director of Aviation Kim Becker Aguirre. “Their expertise and contributions ensured that Silicon Valley passengers were able to continue with their travel plans, and minimized their inconvenience.”

Thanks to the quick actions and well-run coordination by SJC staff, the incident was a one-day event. This is a testament to the skills, training and commitment of SJC staff and partners, along with others throughout the City, who successfully stepped up to address the challenges of this emergency situation.


Steve Bresnahan
January 15, 2014 at 12:21 PM
Excellent work! I'm sure there were some electrical issues with that much water. How would an electrician get called I wonder. Do you have to be on a San Jose list and how would you find out about it? <A HREF="">Electrician San Jose</A>
Communications Office
January 16, 2014 at 1:57 PM
Thanks, Steve Bresnahan, for your comments. All the work was performed with internal electrical staff at Mineta San José International Airport. Companies that wish to do business with the City of San José should list their company information on Bidsync ( Any purchase orders over $10,000 are required to go out to bid, and Bidsync is where they post them. Learn more about doing business with the City here,

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