Jump to content

You think you have problems? ATL closed almost all day by power failure


Recommended Posts

Big pre-holiday weekend, and there's a fire in an underground transformer vault at Atlanta Hartfield. The airport, save for cargo flights which don't use the main terminal, is at a standstill. Flight cancellations running into the hundreds, and soon, thousands.



ATLANTA — A power failure at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Sunday disrupted operations at the busiest airport in the world, forcing the cancellation of more than 1,100 departing or arriving flights and stranding travelers on planes on the tarmac for hours, the authorities and passengers said.

The power failure at the airport, a major hub for domestic and international flights, sent a ripple of disruptions across the country, affecting flights in Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Many flights in the air were diverted when the power went out, and the United States Customs and Border Protection said on Twitter that international flights destined for Atlanta were rerouted to other airports.

Georgia Power, the utility provider for the airport, said early Sunday evening that the failure, which occurred around 1 p.m., might have been caused by a fire that damaged an underground electrical facility and cut power to a substation serving the airport.

The utility said it expected to restore power before midnight. The airport is the busiest in the world for passenger traffic, serving more than 104 million passengers last year, according to Airports Council International.

As the sun set on Sunday, the airport descended into darkness, and at least three airlines canceled their remaining flights headed to Atlanta.

Travelers waiting for answers at the domestic terminal in Atlanta. Dustin Chambers for The New York Times 

Travelers in the south terminal were told to leave the gates and return to the other side of the security checkpoint. But with few hotels with rooms available, many passengers rested on the baggage carousels.

The failure also cut off basic amenities that require electricity, including some water fountains and toilets that rely on electronic motion sensors, passengers said on social media.

Matt Becker said that after his plane landed from Jacksonville, Fla., around 2 p.m., the pilot told passengers there was no power at the airport and no gate where they could exit. Around 5 p.m., the pilot said airport officials had started to allow passengers to exit the planes on ladders, Mr. Becker said.

Only five planes could disembark at a time, Mr. Becker said, quoting the pilot, and his flight was 26th in line out of 64 planes.

Nearly three hours later, Mr. Becker said he and fellow passengers had made their way off the airplane and were coming to a long lane of travelers waiting to get on buses to public transportation and car rental sites.

“It’s one of those things that you hear about but you never think it’s going to happen to you,” he said in a telephone interview.

D. J. Barron, who landed on a plane from Dallas, said the sun had set when passengers on his flight were able to exit. “There were the people with glow sticks that had to direct us,” Mr. Barron, 31, said in an interview. “There was no light.”

A couple relaxed in an atrium outside the domestic security line. Dustin Chambers for The New York Times 

Airlines canceled more than 1,100 flights into or out of Atlanta, according to FlightAware, the flight data website. That figure accounted for more than 90 percent of the cancellations in the United States as of early Sunday evening.

On a Sunday with clear weather, there are usually fewer than 100 flights canceled across the United States, Sara Orsi, a spokeswoman at FlightAware, said in an email.

Delta Air Lines, the largest carrier at the airport by number of passengers, said on its website that more than 450 of its flights were canceled. A spokesman at Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier there, said 70 of its 120 flights out of Atlanta had been canceled, including all departing flights for the rest of the day.

A spokeswoman at American Airlines said 24 departing flights were canceled, as well as 30 arrivals.

Outside of Atlanta, passengers reported delays affecting other airports across the country.

Trying to fly to home for Christmas but the power went out at ATL airport so we’re stuck in Houston 

— Christine Choe (@seulghi) Dec. 17, 2017

The F.A.A. said in a statement that its Atlanta tower had electricity and was operating normally but that it had it had issued a “ground stop,” which meant all flights headed to Atlanta were held at their departure airport.

As the day dragged on, travelers vented on social media about being stranded, the need to make alternate plans and what they complained was a lack of timely information. Some posted photos of passengers standing in the dark in the terminal.

The airport said on Twitter that power had been restored in Terminal F around 7:30 p.m.

William Kimble, 37, was at the Atlanta airport for a layover en route to San Antonio when the power went out. He spent hours in an airport lounge, struggling at times to use the internet with an increasingly spotty data connection.

Despite the lack of information, he said in an interview on Twitter, “passengers here are calm,” adding, “One would assume the folks stuck out on planes are not as happy.”


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yesterday, our local Real Atlantic Superstore was halted dead in its tracks - all computer functions in the store were down - cashes, inventory control, security cameras, automatic door openings!

Are we under cyber attack...again?

[insert woo-WOO-wooooooo music from 1950's SciFi classics...]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...