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Terminal 4 of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) was shut down for four hours on Sunday, leading to 300 flight cancellations and scores more delays — all because of a rental car.

An unattended car with its engine running was parked at the Terminal 4 curbside and was deemed suspicious by airport authorities. Large swaths of the terminal were closed for hours while police investigated the car for explosives, even sending in a bomb-diffusing robot to sweep the vehicle.

Police initially called a tow truck to simply move the idling silver Nissan out of the flow of traffic. But those plans changed when law enforcement reportedly found a trace of a suspicious substance in the car. That’s when the Phoenix bomb squad and the bomb robot were called into action to investigate the situation. The investigation lasted about four hours.


The bomb squad shattered the car’s windows and pried open the hood and trunk of the vehicle to look for potential hidden explosives. After the hours-long investigation, authorities deemed the car was not a threat and finally had it towed away.


Lines snaked around terminals, and, as flyers arrived for their flights, airport shuttle buses backed up during the terminal’s delays and cancellations.

Photo by Patrick Breen/The Republic.
Photo by Patrick Breen/The Republic.

Reports say the unidentified man who left the car idling went into the airport terminal to help his girlfriend check-in for her flight. He reportedly thought only a few minutes went by with the engine running. He was detained by the police for several hours.

Passengers stuck in the mess were livid at the delays.

“An inconsiderate person decided to waste thousands of people’s time and inconvenience them,” a passenger, Ryan Hintze, who was stuck in Las Vegas waiting for a connection in PHX wrote in a direct message to AZ Central. “I hope the idiot who left the rental car gets tracked down and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Officials say the man who parked the car will likely face nothing more than a $56 traffic ticket.

H/T: AZ Central

Featured image by @secondfret via Twitter.

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