Thousands of Passengers, travelers were stranded on planes on tarmac and in terminals for hours after power outage in one of the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta causing chaos, confusion and frustration. This disrupted air travel across the United States and led to the cancellation of more than 1,150 flights in and out of Atlanta on Sunday.
Passengers who were stranded on the plane in tarmac were evacuated by using moveable stairs. They had to walk through dark passage terminal as day dragged on. People used flashlights on their phones to see where they were going.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that its Atlanta tower had electricity and was operating normally but that it had issued a “ground stop,” which meant all flights headed to Atlanta were held at their departure airport. International arriving flights that were in the air when the airport lost power were diverted to other airports.
Georgia Power, the utility provider for the airport, said early Sunday evening that the failure might have been caused by a fire that damaged an underground electrical facility and cut power to a substation serving the airport. It also damaged a backup system that provides power to the airport in emergencies. Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed said the authorities did not know yet what caused the fire, which produced intense flames and toxic fumes that prevented utility workers from getting into the tunnels for several hours. Power was fully restored around midnight by the utility workers.
The city of Atlanta opened the Georgia International Convention Center and offered shuttle services there for stranded passengers who needed a place to stay for the night. Chick-fil-A will provide food for passengers.
Delta, which has its headquarters and largest hub in Atlanta, canceled more than 900 Delta mainline and regional flights as a result of the ground stop. The airline urged passengers scheduled to fly on Monday to check their flights, as approximately 300 flights were canceled due to Sunday’s outage. But with weak cell phone service and spotty Wi-Fi connections, some passengers had difficulty rescheduling their flights.
The ground stop led Southwest Airlines to cancel all operations in and out of Atlanta for the rest of the day, spokesman Brian Parrish said. Customers are being offered re-bookings without fare differences, he said. United and American Airlines also suspended operations to and from Atlanta for the rest of Sunday.