Delta’s Atlanta Operations Returning to Normal After Outage

Passengers rest behind the ticket counter after the lights went out at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta.
Passengers rest behind the ticket counter after the lights went out at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta. // Photo by AP Photo/Branden Camp via Newscred

Delta reports that its operations at its busy Atlanta hub are beginning to return to normal after a Sunday night power outage disrupted operations that evening and into Monday.

According to the latest update from the airline, the outage forced Delta to cancel approximately 1,400 flights over the nearly 24 hour period. As of 1 p.m. ET Monday, Delta said that its operations had largely stabilized and the majority of its customers had been rebooked.

“Nearly 80 percent of the travelers coming through Hartsfield-Jackson every day are Delta customers, so we were closely engaged at all levels with the airport, City of Atlanta and Georgia Power in their recovery efforts following Sunday’s outage,” said Gil West, Delta's senior executive vice president and COO. “At the airport, Delta people, including not only those scheduled to work but also nearly 200 Delta Peach Corps employee-volunteers, have been serving customers — from passing out refreshments to assisting customers with wheelchair support. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we’re nearly back to normal at our biggest hub.”

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Delta has issued the following tips for travelers flying through Atlanta over the busy holiday travel period:

  1. Delta has issued a cancellation waiver that will allow customers originally scheduled to fly through December 19 to rebook through December 22, with the new ticket to be reissued on or before that date.
  2. Delta has established a dedicated help line to help customers (including Air France-KLM customers) retrieve checked bags at 1-888-977-1005. Due to congestions, the airline is encouraging customers to call the line rather than going to the airport’s baggage office.

A number of other airlines have also issued cancellation waivers due to the incident:

United Airlines is allowing travelers scheduled to fly through December 19 to rebook through December 22 in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the original city pair.

American Airlines customers scheduled to fly through December 19 can rebook through December 22 between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference).

Southwest Airlines customers scheduled to fly through December 19 can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pair.

Finally, customers on Frontier Airlines scheduled to fly through December 19 can rebook with new travel to be completed no later than January 1, 2018. Origin and destinations cities may be changed.

In a video update Georgia Power, which is responsible for electricity at the Atlanta airport, said that it is still investigating the cause of the fire that led to the power outage. The fire began in a utility tunnel that serves the airport’s concourses, knocking out both the primary and backup systems.

“Our primary focus now is to investigate what happened to make sure that that never happens again,” said Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers.

The incident is a rough start to what’s shaping up to be a busy holiday travel week. A record 107.3 million Americans are set to take a holiday trip this year, AAA forecasts, up 3.1 percent over last year and the ninth consecutive year of holiday travel growth. Of those, 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth consecutive year of holiday air travel growth. Good to know: December 20 and 21 will be the busiest travel days this week.

Similarly, airline trade association Airlines for America (A4A) reports that 51 million passengers will fly globally, up 3.5 percent over last year.

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