Delayed Delta passengers make most of day at RDU

Posted August 8, 2016 3:16 p.m. EDT
Updated June 12, 2017 3:08 p.m. EDT

— From sandwiches to singing, the atmosphere at Raleigh-Durham International Airport remained upbeat through a day of unwinding delays. Delta Air Lines canceled more than 400 flights Monday after its computer systems crashed worldwide, stranding thousands of passengers on a busy travel day.

The trouble began at 2:30 a.m., trapping red-eye travelers on the West Coast. By dawn, delays had spread across the country.

While hundreds at RDU waited for the airline to execute a technical fix and clear the decks for departure, a hearty few decided to keep the mood light.

A group headed home to Minnesota passed the time with song. "We just thought: dance party," said Amy Puschinsky.

Adrienne Sutton saw reports of the stranded travelers on TV, went to Sam's Club and bought sandwich supplies, and came to the airport to feed people who didn't want to lose their spot in line.

"People said they were hungry and had children in the line five hours," she said. "I've been stranded at the airport before in my military days and had a long layover."

Diane Scott was one of those hungry travelers. She waited about four hours in line to sort out her flight.

Amanda Kalinowski reflected the overall attitude at RDU. "You can be grumpy or happy, and I choose to be happy so just smile and keep going," she said.

A spokesman for Georgia Power told The Associated Press that the company believes a failure of Delta equipment caused a power outage at the airline's Atlanta headquarters.

The outage hampered Delta's ability to communicate updates on its apps, website and status boards at airports around the world. Technology that appeared to be working sometimes issued bad information. Flight-status systems, including airport screens, incorrectly showed flights on time.

As airlines juggle the complex, overlapping systems that operate flights, schedule crews and run ticketing, boarding, airport kiosks, websites and mobile phone apps, even brief outages can snarl traffic and cause long delays. Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights over several days in July after an outage that it blamed on a faulty network router. United has suffered a series of notorious delays since it merged with Continental as the technological systems of the two airlines clashed.