Atlanta airport power outage impacting Savannah flights

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Hundreds of flights were canceled Monday after a power outage shuts down the Atlanta airport, and those effects were felt in Savannah.

Four early flights to Atlanta were canceled Monday morning out of Savannah/Hilton Head International because the planes couldn't leave from Atlanta Sunday night. The planes and crews typically fly in from Atlanta at night, stay overnight and fly out in the morning.

Seven flights into Savannah and three flights out were canceled Sunday, and one flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport was diverted to Savannah/Hilton Head International when it couldn't land in Atlanta, according to Lori Lynah, director of marketing and air service development at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Lynah said diverted flights frequently land in Savannah, and passengers onboard were rebooked for the first available flight Monday

You will need to check the airport's website to see what decision has been made with your flight if it has to stop in Atlanta.

Lynah said Savannah/Hilton Head International has a backup power system to prevent a similar power outage. She said Atlanta's backup system needs a whole substation and an underground facility to operate. In Savannah, Lynah said the backup system is powered by large generators, and the airport also has a portable, truck-sized generator staff could move and use if needed. She said staff tests the system frequently throughout the year.

Randy King and Dick Falxa, who were in the Atlanta airport during the blackout and flew out of Savannah Monday, said they assumed the worst.

"I'm kind of a scaredy cat, so I immediately thought it was some kind of terrorist thing," King said. "So I thought we were all going to die, but I kind of overreact. I'm from a little tiny town in Oregon that doesn't even have a traffic signal, so this whole Atlanta thing has been quite the trip."

They were set to board about five minutes after the power went out.

"It was a mess, and we kept thinking we had a layover in Denver, we were going to be fine, but it wasn't fine," King said.

The soonest flight out of Atlanta their airline could guarantee wasn't until Friday.

"Yeah, so we drove this morning," he said. "Luckily, we got a hotel. We got to stay at the Redline near the airport. That was a miracle too. I mean, I thought we were going to be like Mary and Joseph or something, you know, with no place to stay."

Flaxa said he's happy to have a way home, even if means a long travel day.

"We fly Savannah to Washington, D.C.," he said. "Washington, Portland, Oregon, and then we're supposed to rent a car and drive four hours and get home at midnight tonight."

As they found their way out through Savannah, others coming home were just as grateful.

"We got stuck in Atlanta, and it was a long flight," said Ed Meyerink, who lives in Bluffton. "We came out of Germany, so it took us about 11 hours flight time. Then, we sat there for about five hours waiting for the 100 plus planes in front of us to leave."

His total travel time was about 17 hours.

"The whole day in an airplane, and we had to scramble yesterday to find a hotel," he said. "If we would have waited 10-15 minutes longer, we would have been sleeping in the airport."

Patricia Hann and her four family members were supposed to be on one of the canceled flights out of Savannah on Sunday, and are thankful to have flights rebooked Monday.

"I kind of kept watching them change the departure out of Savannah, and eventually, the line kept getting longer," Hann said. "So, I got in the line so I could get rebooked, and by the time we got there, there was no way we'd make any of our connections. So, we rescheduled everything for today, and ironically, we have the exact same flights going home today. Missing an extra day at work, got to figure out my vacation schedule again at the end of the year, but other than that, everything's good."

Home is Alaska for the Hann family, so they had a 14-hour travel day to get there. Before boarding, she said she hoped everything went smoothly today to get them back home.

Delta customers have been given waiver options. Those flying to, from or through Atlanta can make a one-time change to their travel plans.

Both Hann and Meyerink flew Delta, and said they had great experiences working with the airline through their delays and cancellations.

To check arrivals and departures at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, click here.

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