January 20, 2018

Thousands stranded as power blackout hits Atlanta airport

19 December 2017, 11:09 | Frank Carlson

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"We've got the bags under our eyes to prove it", said Bailey Meekins.

His family missed their flight for a Hawaiian vacation because of Sunday's Atlanta airport nightmare.

While others in the airport were just simply overjoyed that their vacations got off to a better start.

According to airport officials, Georgia Power said the outage was tied to a fire that caused extensive damage to an underground electrical facility.

Because the fire was in a tunnel "adjacent" to the backup cables, the fail-safe system was knocked out, too, Georgia Power said.

At Southwest Airlines, about 70 Atlanta departures out of 120 scheduled for Sunday were canceled, an airline spokesman said in an email.

Brosnan said it reminded him of an incident at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y., where reports of a shot being fired in a terminal caused chaos until it was determined to be a false alarm.

And the AJC learned that the breakdown in communicating with passengers stuck in Atlanta and held up in airports worldwide can be chalked up to the Reed administration's laser focus on accuracy. She says they just hope everything goes smoothly and they really make it home.

"They're more elderly, they're more young people, they're more infrequent travelers", he said. "I chose to get the hell out of there". She was at the airport hours after.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By then, passengers had spent hours coping with darkened terminals, unexplained smoke and fumes, cancelled flights, and a shortage of food.

While the power may be back on at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the aftermath of last night's blackout is still having residual effects for Detroit travelers.

The control tower did not lose power because it has a separate electrical feed, and planes that were in the air and close to Atlanta when the blackout hit were allowed to land. "Four hours on the tarmac, coming from Louisville".

When she finally deplaned around 9 was sweltering inside the airport, she said. "And when one of them goes out, it's devastating", Ryerson said.

Overall, the incident affected one thousand one hundred and fifty departing or arriving flights. Other incoming flights were diverted, and outgoing flights were halted. Customers are being offered re-bookings without fare differences, he said.

Delta canceled about 1,000 flights Sunday and 400 more on Monday, in many cases because the pilots and airplanes were in the wrong places.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when the FAA grounded flights at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

And meanwhile, until the FAA called for a ground stop at 3:28 p.m., planes kept landing.

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