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Atlanta airport aftermath: It would take days for the affected passengers to find open seats, says expert

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Stranded passengers describe ‘chaos’ at Atlanta airport

Ellen Carmichael was stuck on the tarmac for hours after a power outage.

Power may be restored to the international airport Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but that doesn’t mean travelers should expect to go anywhere — not anytime soon, anyway.

After a fire in an underground electrical system, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded more than 1,000 flights on Sunday afternoon, and many more aircraft scheduled to fly to Atlanta were held at their departure airports or redirected entirely.

The power was restored to the airport early Monday morning, although it may take days before the passengers are able to catch rescheduled flights, experts say.

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Travelers were stuck at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport after a power failure grounded more than 1,000 flights on Sunday.

(Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Robert Mann, an aviation consultant and former American Airlines executive, told the Associated Press that Delta Air Lines — where is the head office of Hartsfield-Jackson — might need until Tuesday, before returning to normal. But for the passengers, Mann estimates “it can be most of the week” before they open seats on alternative flights.

Delta passengers would be better off than others. According to Mann, the airline has more crew, more spare aircraft, at the headquarters than anywhere else. The carrier is also issuing a travel waiver for passengers who have experienced cancellations or a “significant delay” for a flight. Delta passengers also can a single change their planned routes if they plan to travel to, from or via” Hartsfield-Jackson international airport through Dec. 19.

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American Airlines has announced that it will waive change fees for certain passengers that were affected by the power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson international airport. A representative for the American told Fox News that 19 of the 49 scheduled departure for Monday were canceled, but his work at ATL will resume from 10 am

On Sunday , American Airlines had cancelled just 24 flights as a result of the power outage, as well as an equal number of incoming flights, the AP reported.

United, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines also reported delays or cancellations, the last 70 of the 120 flights from ATL cancelled on Sunday. At this moment there are no cancellations for Monday flights, however.

Water and food was distributed to the affected passengers after vending machines and food suppliers were not able to work as normal.

(AP Photo/Jonathan Landrum Jr)

All three carriers — United, JetBlue and Southwest are also the issue of exemptions for the affected travelers.

The Hartsfield-Jackson airport, meanwhile, is working with the city of Atlanta, to amend, or to bring aid to the passengers. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced on Sunday that the Georgia International Convention Center, which has a capacity of up to 10,000, it would be open to stranded travelers. The shuttle buses were also provided to transport passengers from the airport to the city center in College Park. The airport added that Chick-fil-A is going to food to those in the convention center.

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Reed also confirmed that the emergency services crew were distributing water to the passengers at the airport. The airport’s Twitter account also confirmed that the meals, and the Chick-fil-A items were scattered at the airport, and a Dunkin’ Donuts location was handing out free donuts, the AP reported.

Some passengers said wheelchair-bound passengers were mostly “helpless” and that airport staff had to carry them up and down stairs.

(AP Photo/Branden Camp)

International airport Hartsfield-Jackson further stated that the airport concession outlets began to re-open shortly after the power is restored.

A number of passengers affected by the outage say that the officials at Hartsfield-Jackson international airport were not forthcoming with information about when power might be restored. Others thought that there was a lack of emergency services to assist disabled passengers, who are largely unable to navigate the airport without the use of escalators and lifts.

“They had these elderly people, disabled people in the row in a wheelchair,” said stranded passenger Rutia Curry. “The people were helpless, they can’t get down the stairs. It was just a nightmare.”

Another passenger said that he saw employees wearing the wheelchair bound passengers of the stairs.

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The power was finally restored to the international airport Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 12 pm on Monday. The fault, according to Georgia Power, was determined to have been caused by a fire in an underground electrical installation, which broke out after a piece of equipment failed. A back-up system, located nearby, had also failed as a result of the fire.

Nevertheless, Georgia Power claims that it is “very rare” for a fault like this occur, because there are “a lot of redundant systems.”

Hartsfield-Jackson international airport, which serves 104 million passengers per year, is the world’s busiest airport, with more than 2,500 aircraft arrive and depart every day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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