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John Wayne passengers all ready, new terminal not

November 14, 2011 |  4:52 pm

John wayne
After five years of planning, officials at John Wayne Airport finally opened the new terminal at the Orange County airfield Monday.

But although passengers may have been ready, alas, the airport wasn’t.

Passengers with luggage had to hike to an adjacent terminal when tests showed the baggage handling system in the new terminal -– the third at the airport -– had failed, the Orange County Register is reporting.

Passengers who didn’t have to check bags were permitted to pass through security at Terminal C. Others, though, were asked to walk to Terminal B to check their bags.

Jenny Wedge, an airport spokeswoman, told the Register that the airport failed a certification test for the baggage system last Thursday and is not authorized to use the system until it gets approval -– a process that could take up to a month.

"We hope to get certified in the next several weeks," Wedge said. She said airport officials hope the baggage snafu will be solved by next week's Thanksgiving holiday rush.

Although the airport held a dedication ceremony Sunday to show off the new terminal, officials never brought up the fact that there was a problem with the baggage system that would prevent it from being up and running on its first day of business.

The new terminal has its own short-term parking area, added concession offerings and –- for the first time -– a customs area. The only international flights out of the Orange County airport are to Canada. But there has been talk about adding flights to Mexico.

Even with the complications Monday, some passengers said John Wayne was a relative cakewalk compared to the lines and congestion at LAX.

"I really like John Wayne Airport. Compared to Los Angeles, it has great service and the lines are shorter,” Bonnie Guevin, 58, a traveler from New Hampshire, told the paper. “I thought I was running late, but even with the check-in change, I have more than enough time."

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--Steve Marble

Photo:  View of the baggage carousels in the new Terminal C at John Wayne Airport. Credit: Steven Georges / Daily Pilot

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