As if holiday travel isn't bad enough, hundreds of flights were delayed and/or canceled on Sunday after a major power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.
The power outage was first reported at 1:30pm, leaving thousands of people stranded in the dark, waiting in terminals and stuck on planes on the tarmac. The people who got out of there before the outage better thank their lucky stars.
And the power outage did not just affect Hartsfield-Jackson. It affected all the airports heading to Atlanta as well.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that it had "put in a ground stop for flights headed to Hartsfield-Jackson," meaning that no one was going into Atlanta and no one was going out of Atlanta.
By the time power was fully restored, more than 1,000 flights to and from Atlanta were cancelled or delayed on Sunday alone. The power was restored just before midnight.
After a few hours of darkness, Georgia Power said that they believed that "the issue may have involved a fire which caused extensive damage" to one of the utility's underground electrical facilities.
In a press conference on Sunday night, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed apologized to the nearly 30,000 people that were affected by the power outage.
"We certainly understand that the outage has caused frustration and anger and we are doing everything that we can to get folks back home right away," he said.
I am glad I don't have his job.
Reed also explained that the outage was caused by an electrical fire in one of the airport's substations. The fire knocked out the airport's main power source as well as its backup system. The fire was big enough to hinder Georgia Power's ability to repair the grid.
"Because of the intensity of the heat, it took approximately one and a half to two hours to make sure the fire was adequately contained," Reed said.
According to the Airports Council International, Hartsfield-Jackson is not only a Delta Airlines hub, it is also the busiest airport in the world. More than 2,500 flights and about 275,000 passengers fly out of this airport every day. Well, except for Sunday.
Delta said that they had canceled approximately 900 flights Sunday and they were able to divert 48 flights to other airports. Southwest Airlines announced that all of its flights in and out of the Atlanta airport were canceled for the rest of the day at around 1:30pm Sunday.
The outage caused not only disruptions from travel plans, but also a lot of confusion. Former US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx just happened to be at the airport that day as well. Let's just say that he was not happy with how things were going down.
It is totally crazy that the world's busiest airport wouldn't have a backup plan to their backup plan. Think about all the people traveling home for the holidays, trying to get to important meetings before the holiday week, and people with disabilities...what a mess!
The Atlanta Police Department and the Georgia Department of Public Safety sent some extra help to help deal with all the chaos, crowds and traffic. They also kept all of their employees there so they would be ready when the power was restored.
And when the power finally went on in some parts of the airport, people were still stuck on their planes for hours. Some people felt like they weren't given any information and they had no idea what was actually happening.
By midnight, the power was back on, and officials were busy trying bring the airport and its stranded passengers back to their normal state. This is a terrible way to ring in the holidays for everyone involved.
We have to give it to passengers like this for trying to make light of a terrible situation. Also, here's a shout-out to all the employees at Hartsfield-Jackson who worked during this nightmare. I am sure it wasn't an easy day on the job. As for your holiday travel plans, don't worry. It can't get much worse than this.