Atlanta airport power outage impacting Connecticut airline passengers

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WINDSOR LOCKS -- The aftermath of the power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was felt by airline passengers nationwide Monday.

The airport is the busiest in the U.S. and the roughly 11-hour power outage Sunday disrupted airline travel for roughly 30,000 passengers.

“We arrived at Atlanta and we landed on the runway, and then we stayed there,” Chip Bates, from Old Saybrook, said.  Bates added he was relieved to be back on Connecticut soil after long ordeal in Atlanta.

Bates was heading home from a group father-son fishing trip in the Bahamas Sunday, when his plane ended stuck for roughly six hours on the tarmac while connecting through Atlanta’s airport.

“They would occasionally come by with a little cup of water or some pretzels,” Bates said.

His flight one of nearly 100 left motionless on the runway as the airport came to a ground stop Sunday afternoon.

“Then we got into the airport and it was pretty confusing because it was dark,” Bates explained.  The darkness forced more than 1,000 flights in and out of the airport to be canceled.

“There were a massive number of people and everyone was trying to talk to Delta and there were like two or three agents,” Bates said.  He added one of the guys in his group was able to get them an Uber to go find an open restaurant.

“All the restaurants were closed, there was no, there was nothing open in the entire Atlanta airport,” he said.

Along with trouble finding food, the hotels in the area were at max capacity.

“We didn’t get a hotel room, but we tried, we were on the phone for hours trying to get a hotel room,” Bates explained.  The group he was traveling with eventually decided to camp out in the airport alongside the other thousands of stranded passengers.

“Everybody was sleeping in a corner or on the floor or wherever,” he described.

The airport’s power came back on around midnight and flights began to resume, but there were still hundreds of cancellations throughout the day Monday.

Bates and several other passengers arriving into Bradley International Airport had additional troubles with delayed luggage.  In the airport’s baggage claim area there were piles of bags coming in on flights different than their owners as the airlines played catch up from the ordeal.

Delta is the largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.  A spokesman for Delta Air Lines says the majority of passengers stranded at the Atlanta airport that lost power have been booked on other flights that will leave Monday.

Delta spokesman Michael Thomas said he expected the airline would be "largely if not completely" back to a normal schedule by Tuesday. That's well before the peak travel weekend ahead of Christmas Day.

Delta, which has its largest hub in Atlanta, canceled 300 flights Monday, most of which are morning, inbound flights to Hartsfield-Jackson. Delta tweeted that it expects flight schedules “to return to normal by Monday afternoon.”

The outage, which affected all airport operations, started with a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said. The electrical fire's intensity damaged two substations serving the airport, including the airport’s “redundant system” that should have provided backup power, Reed said.

Kevin A. Dillon, A.A.E., Executive Director of the Connecticut Airport Authority said:

“At Bradley International Airport, we have a number of redundant systems in place to help mitigate the effects of power interruption. We have a cogeneration facility on-site that serves as the primary source of power for the terminal facility. We also have the ability to switch our electric needs over to the grid should we encounter issues with the cogeneration facility. Additionally, we have back-up generator capacity for our airfield resources. By developing and maintaining these systems, as well as through other means, CAA continues to take steps to lessen the impact of such potential incidents at Bradley.”

The Connecticut Airport Authority also told FOX61 they are continuing to monitor the situation closely as flights in and out of Atlanta resume.  They said passengers who are scheduled to travel to and from Atlanta should contact Delta for further information and instructions. Updates from Delta on the situation can be found here.