It was dark at the busiest airport in the world for a really long time. Thousands of passengers leaving from, coming to, or connecting through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta were stranded, stressed and, those stuck in planes for more than seven hours, were almost suicidal. It wasn’t pretty.
There’s been no good explanation for what shut down the airport, but conspiracy and terrorist theories were rampant. A fire they think. Georgia Power was stumped and airlines were unprepared for the major crisis.
My daughter was flying out of Augusta connecting through Atlanta on Airport Armageddon Sunday. I booked her flight, so both our phones were blowing up with flight delays and eventually notice of a cancellation. A Delta agent in Augusta advises her to drive to Atlanta, straight into the eye of a hurricane. We hadn’t gotten word of the outage yet. Delta thought is was a good idea for her to drive to Atlanta? Really? Did no one from Delta communicate to their employees that Atlanta was the problem? Was the whole airline in the dark?
I’m a big damn deal on Delta. It’s the only status I have, so I take matters into my own hands, dialing the extra special telephone number for frequent travelers like me. I’ll have the problem resolved in no time, I assure my crying daughter. I tend to be overly optimistic. I don’t reach an agent. I get a recording informing me of a power outage and that my call was very important. Someone would get back to me when it was my turn, in about eight or nine hours.
Now I turn on the TV and it’s special alerting all over the place about the power outage that is plaguing passengers from Kalamazoo to Timbuktu. People aren’t happy and no one knows what the heck is going on. People are using cell phones as flashlights until they start having their own power crisis, and they can’t get or make calls telling their loved ones and employers that they’ll be home sometime between now and Christmas.
My daughter is freaking. She just started a new job and she can’t miss work. Remember those days, when you’re afraid that your boss isn’t human and being stranded beyond your control is grounds for suspicion if not termination? I’m clueless how to help, because Delta has gone radio silent with updates and it’s not my turn for a call back for another 8 or more hours.
She drives. Yep, all the way back to Virginia, some 650 miles, leaving at 7:30 pm on a dark, rainy night. She’s in my new car. As she backs out of the driveway, I’m just praying she makes it home safely and that when I wake up in the morning, it will all have been a bad dream. That didn’t happen. Instead I wake up to a text message that my daughter’s flight was departing Augusta from Gate B. She’s in North Carolina now.
I wait a couple of days to let Delta know that, while I know the power outage wasn’t their fault, their lack of information was. And then there was the misinformation of having Meagan drive to Atlanta. Did I mention the gridlock and that it was not possible to get to the airport even if they wanted to sit in the dark with the other thousands of confused and frustrated passengers?
So Mr. Delta Customer Service gets a bit defensive about the whole thing. He tells me that they couldn’t provide me with any information or updates because, and I quote, “We were in the dark.” I swear he said just that. I laugh a little …”no pun intended,” I say, and now the guy is warming up offering some sort of remuneration. It’s not enough to cover the expenses, can’t come close to paying for the aggravation, and then there is the matter of my car sitting in Meagan’s garage in Virginia. I am in Atlanta.
There’s a silver lining. The outage doesn’t appear to be a terrorist attack on the grid. Meagan wasn’t on the Amtrak that derailed. No one died when the lights went out in Georgia, and people eventually got home safely and in time for Christmas.
It’s easy to get our knickers in a knot, but getting upset never changes the circumstances. What’s the moral of this story? Being in a dark mood is far worse than being in a dark airport? I’ll let you know how this Susie Sunshine feels about the mess on my 650 mile drive home on New Year’s Day!
Ho Ho Ho!