Delta Air Lines Recovering From Power Outage Affecting Global Flights

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2016-08-10 Print this article Print
airlines, power outage, failed backup systems, Atlanta Airport, airline passengers delayed, Delta Air Lines

The airline has had to cancel more than 1,500 flights since Aug. 8, after being hit by a power outage that was complicated by systemwide failed backup systems.

Delta Air Lines is still working to bring its computer systems and flight schedules back to normal, more than 24 hours after an Aug. 8 power outage in Atlanta knocked out its corporate computer systems. The issue was worsened when critical systems and network equipment didn't automatically switch over to Delta's backup systems, resulting in the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights.

The problems began at 5:05 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, when Delta computer systems were affected by the Atlanta power outage, according to a post on a Delta news website. By 6:55 a.m., the company reported that the computer problems caused by the power outage were affecting the airline's operations around the world, with "large-scale cancellations expected."

A company spokesman told eWEEK Aug. 9 that the investigation into what went wrong is ongoing, but the problems appeared to cascade when automatic backup systems failed to function as designed. The company is still seeking to learn the root cause of the service disruptions, the spokesman said. The outage did not affect flights that already were in the air.

The company remained in recovery mode as it worked to get airline crews to their departure cities, assist thousands of stranded passengers and get thousands of flights back into service, the spokesman added.

Problems were exacerbated when customers couldn't get flight cancellation and update information from Delta's website because of the outages, but those capabilities were restored Aug. 9, according to the spokesman.

Delta serves customers in 61 countries on six continents.

By 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Aug. 9, Delta reported that an additional 530 flights had been cancelled, while some 1,600 were able to depart. This was in addition to about 1,000 flight cancellations on Aug. 8.

Delta's corporate headquarters in Atlanta sent its own reservations personnel to help customer service agents process passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as the company worked to get its systems back into normal operations, the company said.

Customers are being advised to check the status of their flight at or the Fly Delta App before heading to airports for Delta flights. The airline has waived travel ticket change fees for customers traveling on Aug. 9 and is not accepting unaccompanied minors for travel until Aug. 10. The company also offered to compensate affected customers with $200 flight vouchers on future flights.

"We were able to bring our systems back online and resume flights within a few hours yesterday but we are still operating in recovery mode," Dave Holtz, a senior vice president of operations for Delta, said in a statement. "We are sorry for what many of our customers have experienced over the past 24 hours, including those who remain at airports and continue waiting for their flights. We are doing everything we can to return our operation to normal reliability, but we do expect additional delays and cancellations."

Computer and power glitches that disrupt service schedules and passenger's plans are not uncommon for the nation's airlines.

In July 2015, all U.S. flights on United Airlines were grounded for about two hours due to what the airline called a "network connectivity issue" that kept airplanes out of the skies, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The outage grounded the airline's mainline jets, but did not affect the smaller aircraft that are operated by regional affiliates. The services were restored in about two hours.



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