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Posted: December 20, 2017

Airlines working to reunite stranded passengers with luggage
Passengers Stranded, Flights Canceled After Atlanta Airport Loses Power

By Tom Regan,


Flights are getting back on schedule at Atlanta's airport after the massive blackout but now people have to find their bags.

Delta said they have extra workers working long hours to get those bags to passengers who were affected by flight delays and cancellations.

On Monday, there were more than 400 flight cancelations. Tuesday, there were just a few. 

>> Read more trending news 

Regan saw many travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Tuesday. Some were happy and others, not so much. 

[READ: A minute-by-minute look at Sunday's power outage at Atlanta's airport]

Desmond Key and his buddies were supposed to fly back from Las Vegas Monday, but instead were delayed 26 hours.

“We had to fly through Seattle, then New York and then come back to Atlanta,” Key said.
While planes are in the air, 700 to 800 bags are still grounded at the airport.

“We were able to recover but what you see is, the bags as they flow through are ahead or behind of customers," said Delta spokesperson Anthony Black. “What we are trying to do is marry the bags back to our customers.” 

Delta said it will deliver bags to owners in the metro Atlanta area but other decided to get come get it themselves.

“It's the holiday. We know it's important to get people with their bags, we are working hard and expect it to be done in the next couple of days,” Black said.

Key joked that the airline should reimburse him for the extra money he gambled and lost while stuck at the Las Vegas airport.

“I lost more 'cause I had to stay there. I'm going to file a claim and see what they can do for me,” Key joked.

One man headed to South Africa said he was stuck on the runway tarmac for 11 hours.

“There was no food, nothing… They gave us water. No, people were patient, they were patient,” said passenger Lungelo Dlamini.

The FBI Atlanta office said it is looking into the fire related power outage, but has no reason to believe it was a deliberate act.

Delta has established a dedicated line to help customers retrieve checked luggage. Customers (including Air France-KLM customers) should call 1-888-977-1005 to arrange for baggage delivery.

Due to congestion, customers are encouraged to call the dedicated line for assistance rather than going to an airport baggage service office.
Luggage sits at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after a power outage shut down operations.


Power restored on all concourses of Atlanta airport

12:06 A.M. DEC. 18 UPDATE:  Power has been restored on all concourses. More than 5,000 meals are being delivered to passengers. Trains will be operational soon.

11:20 P.M. UPDATE: Power has been restored to the airport’s Atrium and Concourses T, A and B. 

10:30 P.M. UPDATE: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says all passengers have been allowed to get off planes that have been stranded for hours. 

9:45 P.M. UPDATE: Delta Air Lines cancels 300 flights on Monday.

9 P.M. UPDATE: Mayor Kasim Reed started off an evening news conference with an apology.

“First and most importantly, I was to express my sincere apologies to the thousands of passengers whose day has been disrupted in this manner,” he said. “We certainly understand that the outage has caused frustration and anger, and we’re doing everything that we can to get folks back home right away.”

Reed said the outage started shortly after 1 p.m., at one of the three Georgia Power substations at the airport. It was caused by an electrical fire that started some time between 12:30 and 12:45 p.m.

8:30 P.M. UPDATE: The Federal Aviation Administration will retain normal staffing in 

the Air Traffic Control Tower at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as the airport is open and accepting general aviation and cargo operations. Air traffic controllers also will be ready to handle commercial flights as soon as they resume.

8:25 P.M. UPDATE: Mayor Kasim Reed will hold a press conference at 8:30 at the Airport Emergency Operations Center along with Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers, Police Chief Erika Shields and airport General Manager Roosevelt Council about the power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the multi-agency, coordinated response effort.

7:40 P.M. UPDATE: Mayor Kasim Reed has tweeted: Power at Concourse F is back on. If you are in another concourse, please remain there. We have an additional update on when full power will be restored from.

ORIGINAL STORY: Nearly six hours after a power outage began at Hartsfield-Jackson international Airport, officials said a fire likely caused the outage.

But the cause of the outage is still not confirmed, officials with Georgia Power said.

Atlanta police sent extra officers to help.

>> Read more trending news

“We are aware of the situation and are assisting with crowd control and helping to manage traffic around the airport,” police spokeswoman officer Lisa Bender said.

All flights were canceled,and baggage is being held in a secure area for future pickup, said Rick Crotts, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor who was stuck on a plane for hours.

Camp Creek Parkway was also shut down, and Atlanta police discouraged anyone from heading toward the airport.

Inside the airport, a swirling mass of people waited in an aimless pattern, trying to get cellphone signals in a darkening airport as passengers sat stranded in parked planes on the tarmac.

The terminals were pitch black and people had to use cellphones to light their path. People in wheelchairs had to be carried down stopped escalators and stairwells. 

Delta Air Lines released a statement, saying, in part, that the outage was ongoing and they were “working to deplane customers from aircraft that have not been able to park at a gate due to the outage.”

Olivia Dorfman described by phone to The AJC what she witnessed in Concourse D when the power went out. 

“Maybe 10 minutes later a buzzer went off in the background -- that has been going on for over an hour and every so often bright lights flash in the ceiling,” Dorfman said.

Near the D9A gate, she said smoke filled the area, and at different times airport workers tried to herd passengers toward the smoky area and away from it.

“This has been very bizarre,” she said. “No one seems to know what they’re doing.”

After at least one other woman said she wouldn’t stand in the area that smelled of acrid smoke, as if from an electrical fire, because she suffers from asthma. She and others then walked back toward the gate, Dorfman said. 

“A man is just yelling, ‘Go this way,’” Dorfman said. 

She said the stores weren’t able to sell water or other items because of the power outage.

“It’s unbelievable. This is the busiest airport,” Dorfman said.

Malou Cadavillo and her 16-month-old granddaughter sat in the dark at Hartsfield-Jackson on a motionless luggage carousel, waiting. Her grandchild’s car seat looked like it would never arrive. 

She described her family’s journey from the gate where they arrived in the afternoon to the terminal as a scary odyssey. They walked through the dark corridor between concourses, guided by the lights of other people’s cellphones, as smoke poured in from some unknown source.

Her grandsons, 7 and 11, were uneasy. “I hope there’s no monsters down here,” one said. 

Her son-in-law Michael Rances said emergency preparedness at the airport was unsatisfactory. “There was nobody there to tell you what to do,” he said. 

Nearby, a group of Delta pilots stood conferring. 

“This is gonna take hours,” said one. “Days,” said another. 

Crotts, who was aboard Flight 3392 that arrived at the airport at 1:31 p.m., was among passengers waiting aboard their flights to reach a gate.

Crotts' flight had been waiting for more than two hours when crews brought a ladder and started getting people off the plane, he said.

Andy Gobeil, a spokesman for the airport, said officials weren’t sure what happened.

“We have not determined what caused it,” Gobeil said. Atlanta fire officials and others are “trying to determine how long it will take to get everything up and running.” 

Passenger Norman Radow emailed The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after he heard an announcement at the airport that all flights through Atlanta from Johnson City were canceled.

“To quote the announcer, ‘I recommend you rebook on Tuesday as it will take days for us to get out of this mess,’” Radow said.

He was hopeful his flight wouldn’t be canceled.

John Reetz, a passenger on Flight 5297, said his was one of more than 40 planes parked on the tarmac, waiting for power to be restored.

At first, the pilot told passengers there was no estimate on when the power would be restored, Reetz said in an email.

At the time, passegners were in a generally good mood, but at least one joked that he didn’t have to use the restroom until he saw a line. 

That was after only 45 minutes, Reetz said. 

Later, an officer onboard the flight told passengers, "’This looks like it's going to be a longer process now instead of a shorter one,’” Reetz said. “We're going to be here for a while unfortunately." 

Ina Bond, 72, was at her wit’s end after having been stranded on the tarmac for three hours.

“With water and pretzels and a nasty bathroom,” she said.

Looking for a taxi to find a hotel to spend the night after her connecting flight to Delray Beach, Florida, was canceled, Bond could get no information from airport officials. 

“I passed a whole line of policemen, and none of them could tell me anything,” she said. 

  'I think 'The Walking Dead' started like this’: Twitter reacts to Atlanta airport shutdown

'I think 'The Walking Dead' started like this’: Twitter reacts to Atlanta airport shutdown

A power outage was reported at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport around 1 p.m. Sunday.

>> Read more trending news

Reports from the scene describe a swirling mass of people trying to get cellphone signals in a darkened airport.

Online, people began posting photos and video they said were taken at the scene.

Other people reacted with a skepticism of Atlanta infrastructure, especially this year.

And of course, there were jokes.

For more information, check out the rest of the AJC’s coverage of the power loss.

  Power restored on all concourses of Atlanta airport

Chick-fil-A comes to rescue during Atlanta airport's power outage

It could be a first for Atlanta's favorite fried chicken sandwich restaurant -- Chick-fil-A opened up its hearts and its fryers to help the stranded travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

>> Read more trending news

Chick-fil-A is traditionally closed on Sundays but because of the massive power outage at the airport, restaurant employees came to the rescue for thousands of stranded -- and hungry -- travelers. 

The Atlanta airport tweeted around 1:15 a.m. photos of Chick-fil-A workers handing out sandwiches and water.

Travelers stranded at the Georgia International Convention Center were also treated with the meals. 

In all, 2,000 meals were provided to travelers. 

>> Power restored at Atlanta airport

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed thanked Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy for his support. 

Here is the full statement from Chick-fil-A: 

“The mayor called about 10 p.m. and asked for assistance. We immediately mobilized staff and team members who live and work near the airport, and they are making sandwiches and delivering them to the EOC (emergency operations center). City and airport officials there are distributing sandwiches to passengers who are stranded due to the power outage. It has been a very difficult day for thousands of travelers, and while Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday, our restaurants open occasionally to serve communities in need. We do not make a profit, but do what we can to offer comfort to people experiencing hardship”

Atlanta mayor explains delay in addressing airport outage amid major criticism

For hours after an embarrassing power outage brought Atlanta’s busy airport to a standstill, the face of the city said nothing publicly about the unfolding catastrophe.

>> Read more trending news 

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed didn’t speak publicly about the airport blackout until nearly 7 p.m. — about six hours after it was sparked by an electrical fire — when he took to his favorite medium of Twitter and then followed it up with a press conference before a bank of TV cameras.

Reed said Monday that he was hobbled by limited information about the extent of the fire because it took hours to send experts into the substation because of noxious fumes, even as he apologized to the thousands of passengers stranded in Atlanta and other airports. He only decided to speak publicly, he said, “when we were going to be right” about the details.

“We could always communicate better and more effectively,” Reed said. “But I did believe that it would be highly frustrating to hold a press event where we communicated nothing. Everyone knew that we had a fire that occurred, but we could not even know when we could get the airport up and operational.”

The city’s response to the blackout that disrupted flights around the globe has led to a cascade of criticism. And it’s difficult timing for the mayor, who hopes to leave office on a high note when he hands over the reins of City Hall to his successor in about two weeks.

He’s spending part of his final stretch in office addressing problems that have again made Atlanta the butt of jokes about its infrastructure problems. One of the loudest critics was former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who vented on Twitter about the “total and abject failure” at the airport.

>> Related: 'I think 'the walking dead' started like this’: twitter reacts to Atlanta airport shutdown

“I have no idea what happened here today. We all understand that snafus happen and most of the folks down here are doing their jobs to the best of their ability,” said Foxx, who was traveling through Atlanta on Sunday. “But, whatever the cause, it feels like this one was compounded by confusion and poor communication.”

‘Real answers’

The city’s response to the outage was complicated by the difficulties of fighting a fire that erupted in the electrical facilities that snake along tunnels deep beneath the airport.

The mayor and Georgia Power said the blaze knocked out both the substations and the backup system that powers Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Although firefighters responded to the fire shortly after it sparked around 12:45 p.m., it took about two hours to investigate and extinguish the blaze and hours more to clear the tunnels of noxious fumes, Reed said, before utility officials could inspect and begin to repair the damage.

Read more here.

Staff writer David Wickert contributed to this article.

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