Delta’s Big Power Outage – Tips for Delayed Travelers

UPDATE: August 10 – According to the latest reports, it was not a power outage that led to Delta’s 6 hour, worldwide system disruption Monday but an internal problem. As the Dallas Morning News reports, a power control module malfunctioned which in turn caused a surge that cut off power to the airline’s main computer system “that control[s] everything from reservations and boarding passes to crew and gate assignments [which] toppled like a row of dominoes.” There were backup systems in place but for some reason, not all worked.

Meanwhile the fallout continues but the outlook is improving. According the the latest information on, travelers can expect “about 90 cancellations at the beginning of the day leading to normal operations later.”

August 8 – At approximately 2:30 a.m. eastern time Delta Air Lines says its Atlanta hub was hit with a power outage that “impacted Delta computer systems and operations worldwide” and the airline said delays and cancellations of flights around the world will continue through the day (and possibly beyond).

Delta’s Big Power Outage

If any of this sounds familiar, the Delta mess comes less than three weeks after massive computer problems temporarily took down Southwest’s system. Meanwhile, Delta is waiving its change fee for flights through Aug. 12 and you can learn more about Delta’s big power outage and what the carrier is doing on its site, plus this post will be updated with major announcements.

Tips for Delayed Travelers

The following information comes from FareCompare’s travel expert and CEO Rick Seaney, who’s endured his share of flight snafus: 

Airlines rely on technology, and they have for years; consider electronic boarding passes, airport kiosks, tag-it-yourself bags. This kind of automation means fewer humans, which can save a lot of money but – what happens when the computers suddenly don’t work?

Whether it’s a matter of cyber threats, expensive redundant infrastructure, airline mega-mergers and the attendant merging of thousands of disparate carrier systems, or even terrible storms that crash system or the simple matter of a single red button that should not have been pressed – all this demonstrates the vulnerability of airline systems and is a warning shot for them to up their game.

On the flip side, there are things passengers can do to help themselves but the key is good quality information. Try these tips:

  1. Get alerts: Signing up for flight status alerts is useful not just for passengers but anyone on the other end of the flight who needs to be informed (and maybe pick the traveler up at the airport).
  2. Get a human: Find a live person to talk to, on the phone, or at a less crowded gate, at a VIP club if you don’t mind springing for a day pass (could be worth it and airlines sometimes offer these as special deals), or go back outside security – this may could be the solution to your stuck-at-the-airport dilemma.
  3. Do some homework: Airlines will typically issue waivers so the expensive change fee is not the issue but finding a flight out is. So, do some homework for the airline rep by finding an alternate airline or simply an alternate location to fly to. It may be much easier to get out of the alternate location (especially if it’s a large hub city).
  4. Make sure you can be reached: This is especially important if you are speaking to an airline rep on the phone; before you do anything else, be sure to give them your mobile number in case you get disconnected (yes, it happens).
  5. Alternate travel days: If your flight is cancelled and it’s clear you won’t be traveling this day, remember the slowest days for airline travel are Tuesday and Wednesday so you may have much better luck getting a flight on those days. Mondays are tough since they are very popular with business travelers.

Final thought: Be patient with any humans you are lucky enough to make contact with; they didn’t make the mess but are stuck with cleaning it up.


Updated: August 29, 2017