Thousands of passengers were left stranded after a fire in an underground electrical facility caused a power outage at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia on December 18, 2017. Over 1,100 flights were canceled at the world's busiest airport, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said at a news conference that around 30,000 passengers at the airport were affected.
Over a thousand flights to and from Atlanta were canceled, and many other airports were affected as well.
1,109 flights cancelled to/from #ATL today out of 1,209 total cancelled to/from US airports. Live updates here:… https://t.co/s0dDEVE3st— FlightAware (@FlightAware)1513557332.0
A nightmare for passengers.
Emilia Duca, 32, was on her way to Wisconsin from Colombia: "A lot of people are arriving, and no one is going out. No one is saying anything official. We are stuck here. It's a nightmare."
Another stranded passenger, Rutia Curry, said elderly or disabled passengers were left stranded: "They had these elderly people, handicapped people lined up in wheelchairs. The people were helpless, they can't get down the stairs, it was just a nightmare."
Among those stranded included Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, and President Obama's former transportation secretary Anthony Foxx.
Billy Mills, the only American to ever win the gold medal in the 10k meter race (Tokyo, 1964) and his wife Patricia were on their way home when they became stranded in Atlanta overnight.
Foxx, who served as Transportation secretary for former President Obama from 2013 to 2017, ripped the airport for its slow response to the massive power outage.
Total and abject failure here at ATL Airport today. I am stuck on @delta flight, passengers and crew tolerating it.… https://t.co/MFtU2WfYx1— anthonyfoxx (@anthonyfoxx)1513547995.0
But someone had a powerful counterpoint to Foxx's complaint of inconvenience.
@anthonyfoxx @Delta Welcome to what we are living right now in Puerto Rico for the last 90 days— iJav🔦 (@iJav🔦)1513551407.0
@anthonyfoxx @scibbe @Delta There are tragedies, and there are inconveniences. Please remember you are being inconvenienced, not tortured.— Bethy P. (@Bethy P.)1513551409.0
But Delta was at the ready with timely tweets!
@MAMilloy I have already submitted the return flight for a refund. *TDH— Delta (@Delta)1513553421.0
@MAMilloy Yes, can reach out to the Medallion Desk for assistance if they will still provide MQMs on a canceled flight. *TDH— Delta (@Delta)1513553686.0
@MAMilloy Yes due to this power outage phone is an extremely long hold time. *TDH— Delta (@Delta)1513554181.0
@MAMilloy You are welcome. *TDH— Delta (@Delta)1513554305.0
Passengers trapped in their airplane seats for hours.
Dozens of flights had landed in Atlanta as the blackout occurred, with some forced to spend hours on the tarmac as they waited for crews to take passengers off via stairs. Such was the case for CNN's Betsy Klein, who spent seven hours stuck in her airplane seat.
Greetings from Atlanta! The pilot says there is no power at Hartsfield. No plane can arrive at a gate and no plane… https://t.co/GPb0SgZFhm— Betsy Klein (@Betsy Klein)1513538579.0
Pilot is walking around. Says we have 1-2 more hours - slow because there are only 5 sets of stairs and dozens of p… https://t.co/xojNrhGnO7— Betsy Klein (@Betsy Klein)1513551717.0
Klein was thrilled to finally be off the plane.
The deplaning https://t.co/UZlQmxs69Z— Betsy Klein (@Betsy Klein)1513565689.0
It wasn't that much better inside the airport Sunday night.
Klein reported that there was no police presence inside the terminals, and it was unclear who was in charge. She added it was hard to even know how to get out.
https://t.co/XtxfzyrBS5— Betsy Klein (@Betsy Klein)1513567239.0
https://t.co/qLwUEpUBQu— Betsy Klein (@Betsy Klein)1513567333.0
https://t.co/6gboAzBYyh— Betsy Klein (@Betsy Klein)1513567441.0
The experience was even more harrowing for other passengers.
Ellen Carmichael was on a 10.5-hour flight which was 10.5 hours long before spending nearly an additional six hours stranded on the runway before she was finally able to deplane.
After 10.5 hour-long international flight departing at 4:55 am ET, we now approach hour 5 on the tarmac at Atlanta.… https://t.co/H6Kf4Tr9uc— Ellen L. Carmichael (@Ellen L. Carmichael)1513560425.0
A storm of criticism was unleashed.
Lack of food was a serious problem.
Hi yes I would like to order a pizza the delivery address is the Atlanta airport runway. Landed hours ago from Germ… https://t.co/ZpQuWmEg99— Lolo Jones (@Lolo Jones)1513554015.0
And the conversations became intense.
Walking dead comparisons, philosophical and political conversations are now being overheard on this stranded #Delta… https://t.co/RxLc3uCIDn— Kaylin Jurrjens (@Kaylin Jurrjens)1513550777.0
One plane used live entertainment to keep spirits up.
Even employees were not spared from the carnage as they tried to help passengers.
At least they had chicken for dinner.
The City of Atlanta has mobilized the Georgia International Convention Center and will provide shuttle services for… https://t.co/BSAMXN8Fb5— City of Atlanta, GA (@City of Atlanta, GA)1513565827.0
Power was restored late Sunday night, but the tens of thousands of passengers wanting to get home remained stranded.
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