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Battery-powered toothbrush disrupts airport, closes MARTA

7:54 PM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- A checked bag that was making a ticking sound at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport led police to divert travelers and halt MARTA service.

It was a first for Hartsfield-Jackson - a battery powered toothbrush nosily going off in a bag that was about to be sent on an AirTran flight.

An AirTran ticket agent heard something strange and sounded the alarm.

"She was hearing this little noise, something strange coming out of the bag," Louis Miller, Airport General Manager said.

"We secured the area," he said, "got the Bomb Squad down here to find out exactly what was going on."

And as the Bomb Squad worked, MARTA activated its own security plan.

The airport MARTA station was shut down, and all train service was halted at the College Park Station.

Almost 500 passengers were delayed during the morning rush as service was curtailed for almost a half hour.

"This AirTran employee did the exact thing she should have done. She heard something, didn't know what it was. You don't want to put it on an airplane and have it go because it could have been a bomb," Miller said.

Turns out many passengers who check items like toothbrushes that require power never think of taking out the batteries.

"I brought one that was a gift that we were going to bring to Michigan with us. I checked it in my bag," Mary Lou Molder, an airline passenger said.

She could have taken out the battery.

"I never thought of it," she said.

And Molder is not alone.

"I have one of those in my suitcase so I hope they don't shut it down again and find mine," Matt Jones, another passenger said.

He, too, says he never thought of taking out the battery.

Something may change as travelers think about what a noise-making, vibrating toothbrush can do at the world's busiest airport.

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