The world’s busiest airport descended into chaos Sunday, as a mysterious power outage struck Atlanta International during one of the most hectic travel times of the year.
Flights to and from the major transit hub came to a halt shortly after 1 p.m., prompting back-ups and delays all throughout the nation’s commercial aviation system, including at the three New York area airports.
The sudden blackout forced passengers in the Georgia airport to wander though the dark, bags in hand for hours as the lights still had not been turned by on by 7 p.m. — when the city’s power officials announced that power may not be back by midnight.
“This has been very bizarre,” Olivia Dorfman told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “No one seems to know what they’re doing.”
Mozell Smith, 68, of Atlanta said he hadn’t heard about the outage and arrived around 4 p.m. to catch his flight to Las Vegas.
“This is terrible. I wish someone would’ve given us a heads-up before we got to the airport,” he said. “I wish there would have been better communication.”
According to one traveler on her way home to Indiana, acrid smoke filled a part of terminal D at least twice and airport workers seemed at a loss to explain it.
More than 600 flights to and from Atlanta were canceled after the FAA issued an emergency “ground stop,” sccording to Flightradar24.
Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said the utility was working to find out the cause of the outage and restore electricity at a substation while spokeswoman Holly Crawford said no areas outside of the airport were affected by the power cut.
Airport spokesman Reese McCranie said some emergency power had been restored throughout the day. Officials were forced to evacuate people from the terminal using Atlanta-area city busses.
Delta passenger Emilia Duca was on her way to Wisconsin from Bogota, Colombia, when she got stuck. She said police made passengers in the baggage claim area move to a higher floor, where restaurants and shops were closed.
“A lot of people are arriving, and no one is going out. No one is saying anything official. We are stuck here,” she said. “It’s a nightmare.”
The Hartsfield-Jackson airport serves 104 million passengers a year, making it the world’s busiest.
By comparison, JFK International Airport is only ranked 16th in the world and served 59 million.
Credit: NY Post