Delta Air Lines flights were grounded for at least six hours early Monday by a global computer system outage, causing large-scale cancellations and stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers.
“Customers heading to the airport should expect delays and cancellations,” Delta warned.
At New York’s LaGuardia Airport, the flight information boards showed delays of several hours, and customers queued up at long customer service lines.
Samantha Serrano, who had been set to leave La Guardia at 8:23 a.m., was sitting on the floor near the gate with her 3-year-old son at 10 a.m.
“It’s way past his nap. He’s not happy,” she said. “He’s got pancakes, which always keeps him happy.”
Delta flier Marcia Jackson, who was trying to get home to Detroit, said Delta employees had handled the situation “very well.”
Delta (DAL), the world’s second largest airline, said the problem was a power outage at its Atlanta hub. The local electric utility, Georgia Power, said the problem was “a failure overnight in a piece of equipment known as switchgear” that affected only Delta.
As of 10:30 a.m. ET, Delta had canceled 300 flights. The airline expects the number of canceled flights to grow throughout the day.
Delta, on average, operates about 15,000 daily flights, carrying an average of 550,000 daily passengers during the summer.
The cause of the power outage was not immediately known. U. S. law enforcement officials are working with Delta, a U.S. official told CNN. But there are no indications that a computer hack is responsible. Delta has given indications it does not believe it was hacked.
Getting information on the status of flights was particularly frustrating for passengers.
Delta conceded during the ground stop that it was having trouble providing accurate flight status on airport departure boards, at delta.com, the Fly Delta App and from Delta representatives on the phone.
The airline said if a flight is canceled or significantly delayed, passengers will be entitled to a refund, though it did not specify what is considered “significantly” delayed.
Even passengers booked on a flight Monday whose flights are not canceled can make a one-time change to their tickets without the normal fee. But they could have to pay the difference in fare for a new flight. They will need to start travel by this Friday to benefit from the lack of a change fee.
The Joseph family from Suffern, New York, arrived at LaGuardia Airport in New York early Monday morning for a flight to Orlando, the start of a vacation to Disney World for their six children.
“Delta is just saying the systems are down and we are going to be late,” said Frantzy Joseph, the family’s father.
“We’re feeling OK. We’re excited to go Disneyworld. We just want to catch the flight,” said Claudia Joseph, the family’s mother.
The Joseph family have been waiting for a flight to Orlando since 6.15am. #Delta grounded flights pic.twitter.com/sMYOpbSj6E— Samantha Barry (@samanthabarry) August 8, 2016
“The airline provided passengers with little information,” said New Yorker Carly Hayes, who was due to travel from Fiumicino Airport in Rome to New York’s JFK, in an Instagram post.
Jackie Watanabe, who was due to travel from Las Vegas to Minneapolis, tweeted that the airline handed out blankets to passengers who wanted to get some sleep on the floor of the terminal.
“I’m not ready to go into camping mode yet, but other passengers are,” she said, tweeting a photo of sleeping passengers in Las Vegas.
Delta’s problems come less than three weeks after Southwest Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights following a system outage.