Atlanta airport in the dark

Grace Parker, Staff Contributor

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport lost power, due to a fire in an underground tunnel, around 1 p.m on Sunday December 17, leaving thousands of travelers frustrated and stranded. According to the airport, Hartsfield-Jackson serves approximately 275,000 passengers and averages 2,500 flight arrivals and departures every day, so this was very chaotic for the thousands of passengers trying to get home for the holidays. They were forced to cancel 1,173 flights and delayed over 200 more.

Officials were not allowed to safely enter the tunnels underneath the airport due to the dangerous fumes and heat. They weren’t even allowed to assess the damage for about two hours then they could decide how long it would take for power restoration. This angered travelers because no one knew how the power would be out, not even the firefighters and electricians. The problem was, “Because the fire was in a tunnel ‘adjacent’ to the backup cables, the fail-safe system was knocked out, too,” Georgia Power said. They would have been okay but the location of the fire caused the backup power to go out as well.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed feels concern for travelers. “I want to express my sincere apologies to the thousands of passengers whose day has been disrupted in this manner, we certainly understand that the outage has caused frustration and anger and we are doing everything that we can to get folks back home right away,” he said.

Atlanta radio host Brian Moote mentioned, “People are being really calm and cool about it just because we realize it’s not the airline’s fault but the babies are getting restless. We don’t have any food; nobody has eaten. They’re trying to get us water.” This was after Moote and his fellow passengers were stuck on their plane for over 6 hours.

The power finally returned around 11 p.m (almost 11 hours later) and people were allowed to continue their travels and be home for the holidays, despite that it is almost a day later than it should be.