Airlines inch back to normal flow after Atlanta airport fire

Reuters

"I had to wait in one line in an hour and a half just to get another flight and then had to wait in another line for two hours to get my boarding pass and then finally got to sleep on the floor", said Robin Bierworth.

Others said they were waiting on the tarmac: "Atlanta airport doesn't have power".

Thousands of incoming flights and departures are scheduled daily at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, and some of those come from right here in our region.

"This was like a one in a million chance", said airport Deputy General Manager Balram Bheodari, adding that a full power outage has never happened in his 17 years working at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Rather than inform 35,000 stranded passengers that the outage was connected to a fire in an airport substation, city officials opted to keep travelers out of the loop until they had ironclad confirmation. Southwest Airlines cancelled all of its flights in and out of Atlanta.

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.

You will need to check the airport's website to see what decision has been made with your flight if it has to stop in Atlanta.

People used flashlights on their phones to see where they were going, said passenger Heather Kerwin, an Atlanta resident bound for NY.




"It was like they were totally unprepared", said Jim Hollingsworth.

But today I talked to veteran journalist Cheryl Preheim in Atlanta. "I was surprised", says R.W. Burt, recalling when he learned his flight to Atlanta was delayed.

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

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, according to the city's verified twitter account. It's unclear how widespread the outage is or what caused it.

Anthony Foxx, who served as USA transportation secretary under President Barack Obama, was among the many travelers stuck for hours on a plane on the tarmac.

Jodi Green's Delta flight from the Bahamas landed at 1:15 p.m. ET Sunday. Green said the pilot told passengers that other flights that had ran out of fuel were evacuated before theirs.

Like Sunday's outage, that April storm hit at a busy travel time when there were not many empty seats to accommodate customers from canceled flights. Despite the circumstances, she said, order prevailed.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the restaurant chain served almost 2,000 meals on Sunday.

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