Early morning power outage at Austin airport leads to cancellations, confusion, delays


A power failure at the Austin, Texas, airport Wednesday morning resulted in 90 flight cancellations and more than 119 delays.

Power went out at about 4:30 a.m., leaving workers and travelers inside Austin-Bergstrom International in the dark until backup generators restored some lighting.

“The systems (run by the generators) include ingress and egress lighting to help staff and passengers see through the dark, fire detection and alarm, the overhead PA system and security functions,” airport spokesperson Samantha Haynes told the Austin American-Statesman.

All flights were halted during the power outage, which lasted until 8 a.m. As of 4 p.m Wednesday, 90 flights in and out of the airport had been canceled, with 119 delays, according to FlightAware.

David Lowes, who had a ticket for one of those canceled flights and who was in the airport at the time of the outage, told the Wall Street Journal that “It was just a super eerie feeling because it was pitch black.”

During the power outage, those who had gotten through security waited in the terminal, while those waiting in the security lines stayed there.

Transportation also snarled on the ground, as roadways were closed to prevent travelers from coming to a terminal with only minimal power.

At around 9:48 a.m, the roads were reopened and the order to keep planes grounded was lifted.

The chaos continued after the power returned and flights restarted, as the airport had to process a bevy of delays, cancellations, and gate changes.

“Even with the power turned back on, nobody knows what gate to go to right now. Not only do we not know what gate to go to, when you go to a gate the poor people working that gate don’t know what gate you’re supposed to go to. They don’t know if the plane sitting there is actually still going to the right place,” flier Randy Denzer told the Austin American-Statesman.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Texas Democrat, had choice words to describe his reaction to the Wednesday morning outage.

“The source of this morning’s horrible chaos appears to have been an external power cut … Austin Energy must act to ensure a fully functional backup system so that this never reoccurs,” the congressman said in a written statement to the Austin American-Statesman.


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