This article was reported by William Murphy, Rachel Uda, Alfonso Castillo and Alison Fox. It was written by Castillo.
An early morning power outage at Delta Air Lines’ Atlanta headquarters shut down the company’s flight operations for six hours Monday and resulted in hundreds of cancellations and delays throughout the day that impacted travelers around the globe.
After reporting the outage about 2:30 a.m., Delta grounded all its scheduled flights until about 8:40 a.m. As of 1:30 p.m., the company said it had canceled 450 of its 6,000 daily scheduled flights, but warned that “large scale cancelations” and delays would persist.
Compounding the service disruption, Delta’s flight status systems, including airport screens, were incorrectly showing flights as being on time. The company said it was working to resolve the issue, but, in a post on its Twitter feed, said its main focus was its customers and getting operations “back to normal.”
“I apologize for the challenges this has created for you in your travel experiences,” Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said in a minute-long video message to customers delivered from Delta’s operations and customer center in Atlanta. “The Delta team is working very, very hard to restore and get these systems back as quickly as possible.”
Delta officials provided no explanation for the power failure. Bastian said “an all-hands on deck effort” was underway to fix the problem.
At the Delta terminals at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, inconvenienced travelers displayed frustration and understanding.
At Kennedy, James Ballinger, 31, of Queensland, Australia, was headed home with his new bride Monday morning and was afraid he’d miss his connecting 3:35 p.m. flight out of Los Angeles.
“Because we’re delayed four hours on this flight, we’re going to miss our flight to Brisbane,” he said. “Things happen, but it’s not ideal when you’ve got a 20-plus-hour journey.”
At LaGuardia, Lars Heger, 52, of London, and his family were headed to Nashville, Tennessee, on the next leg of their U.S. vacation. After being rebooked on a flight to Cincinnati, where he and his family would catch a connection, he expected to arrive at his destination by about 9 p.m., six hours late.
“It’ll be a long day, but there’s nothing you can do,” Heger said, joking that at least this way they would be able to see a little more of the country, if just briefly.
Delta kept customers updated throughout the day on its website and Twitter account, and provided tips for travelers. The company offered refunds to travelers whose flights were canceled or significantly delayed, and waived fees for customers making changes to their tickets. Unaccompanied minors were not allowed to travel Monday.