Some passengers have been stuck at the world’s busiest airport after hundreds of flight cancellations due to Irma.
Traveler India Canyon said she was trying to get to Cincinnati and was scheduled to depart Monday, but her Frontier Airlines flight was canceled and her next flight isn’t until Wednesday. She spent the night at the airport and expected to stay another night before flying out.
“It’s been kind of a horrible experience,” Canyon said, adding that the experience was “frustrating” and she was trying to find a way to get food vouchers.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s domestic terminal atrium overnight Monday was “pretty crowded, especially around the outlets,” as travelers tried to keep their phones charged, Canyon said.
Other passengers found hotel rooms after their flights were canceled.
Traveler Bruce Brown was headed to Savannah from Rhode Island with a connection in Atlanta when all of the flights to Savannah were canceled Monday.“I had to spend the night in your beautiful city,” said Brown, who stayed at a Ramada hotel by the airport. “It’s all good. Can’t complain, compared to the people down south.”
Delta Air Lines canceled 140 flights scheduled for Tuesday, as recovery from Irma continued to disrupt flight schedules.
Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport behind Delta, canceled 52 flights in Atlanta Tuesday.
Atlanta-based Delta said its Tuesday flight cancellations were the residual effects of cancellations in Atlanta Monday as well as disruptions to operations in Florida.
The 140 Tuesday cancellations out of Delta's 5,500 flights scheduled for the day come after Delta on Monday canceled about 1,100 flights and diverted another 65 flights.
Brad Frazier, who lives in Buford, had two flights canceled Monday and was rescheduled to depart on a business trip to Omaha on Tuesday.
“I just worked from home,” Frazier said as he waited for his flight. “I really can’t complain.... It’s incredibly inconvenient, but under these circumstances, you can’t get upset.”
He added that the drive from his home to Hartsfield-Jackson on Tuesday morning “was kind of amazing -- very little traffic.”
Delta resumed most of its service to Florida on Tuesday and was working on resuming flights to Valdosta, Albany and Savannah.
Volunteers from Delta’s headquarters near the Atlanta airport staffed concourses to help passengers with making connections and getting information on rescheduled flights. They also handed out Chick-fil-A sandwiches to some hungry passengers and helped customer service agents hand out overnight kits and blankets.
“Some of the passengers can be stressed out,” said Bryan Johnson, an airport customer service project management manager at Delta’s general offices, who is a member of the airline’s Peach Corps group of volunteers who help at airports when needed. “You get to really feel for the experience of the customer.”
Delta and Southwest, the two largest carriers at Hartsfield-Jackson, are waiving certain change fees for travelers with flights booked to cities affected by Irma through Sept. 17 who want to change their travel plans.
Delta said it added extra flights between Atlanta and Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando on Tuesday, as well as an extra flight between New York and San Juan, Puerto Rico and Los Angeles and Miami.
Delta also plans to operate a humanitarian flight from Turks and Caicos to Detroit on Tuesday.
The airline was still evaluating when it could resume service to Brunswick, Ga.; Key West; St. Thomas; Turks and Caicos; and St. Maarten.
One traveler, Leo William, was trying to get back home to St. Maarten, where infrastructure was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. He was returning from a trip to Los Angeles connecting through Hartsfield-Jackson on Delta, and said he hadn’t planned to stay in Atlanta since last Wednesday.
“I’m not prepared for this,” William said. “I already spent the cash in my pocket,” and is now sleeping at the airport. He said he now is scheduled to fly back to St. Maarten Thursday and hopes the flight won’t be canceled.
“If I’m not lucky with the Thursday flight, then I don’t know,” he said.
Brendon Handley, 18, was trying to return home to Boston from Florida last Friday when his flight was canceled and he ended up stuck in Atlanta.
“I stayed at hotels and motels for the weekend, then like I ran out of money,” Handley said. He spent Monday night at the airport.
Sigourney Alexander was trying to return home to Minnesota when her Monday night flight on Southwest from Atlanta was canceled. She spent the night in the airport terminal and called it “super cold and very uncomfortable.”
Daniel Brack, a passenger from Los Angeles, said he was trying to return home when his Spirit Airlines flight was canceled Sunday, followed by a rescheduled flight Tuesday that was canceled, rescheduled for Wednesday.
“It’s been frustrating, very difficult to hold your composure,” Brack said.
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