An equipment failure caused a power outage at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Monday morning, impacting a significant amount of flights.
Shortly after 8 a.m., Arizona Public Service notified the airport about a partial power outage that affected systems in several terminals, according to Eric Everts, spokesperson for Sky Harbor.
Power was restored to Terminal 3 at 9 a.m. Monday but power was still out in Terminal 4 and a nearby checkpoint was closed, he said.
The power was fully restored to the airport around 1:45 p.m., according to Everts.
"All systems are quickly returning to regular operation. Passengers should continue to check flight status with their airline before coming to Sky Harbor. Delays are likely into the evening," Everts said.
"Sky Harbor had more than 200 delays, more than 90 cancellations and more than 15 inbound flights diverted to other airports. American and Southwest, our two busiest airlines, were the most severely impacted," Everts said.
APS worker injured; out of the hospital as of Monday afternoon
Arizona Public Service Company workers were on site conducting maintenance at the airport when a piece of electrical equipment failed. The equipment failure caused the outage in both terminals 3 and 4 in addition to injuring a worker.
The worker faced injuries that were not life-threatening but was transported to the hospital for treatment, according to APS.
"The health and wellbeing of our crew is of the utmost importance to us, and we will continue to monitor the employee’s condition," the company said in a prepared statement.
Later in the day, APS said the worker "has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home."
The failure happened "in a piece of equipment called a switching cabinet. We're looking into what caused that failure," APS said in a tweet around 2:30 p.m.
Arizona Corporation Commission Chairwoman Lea Márquez Peterson noted that the APS outages at "Terminals 3 & 4 would have impact" because Sky Harbor is an "economic gateway & hub," but there was "no impact more important than protecting human life." Peterson shared her relief that the employee had non-life-threatening injuries and that she wished them a speedy recovery, she tweeted.
Passengers in limbo while power is out in airport
Several passengers reported being in limbo for the better part of Monday because of the power outage.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop at 8:48 a.m. Arizona time, due to loss of power. The FAA canceled its ground stop for Southwest at10:55 a.m. Arizona time.
Lacey Keller waited through a long line and was told that there was nothing that could be done.
“We’ve only been here for about an hour, but our flight was supposed to leave at 1:05 and it got canceled. We didn’t get another flight out till tomorrow at 12:45," Keller told The Arizona Republic.
Since they were not prepared to make other accommodations, they decided they were going to stay at the airport for over 24 hours, Keller said.
Keller was not the only one forced to make alternative arrangements. Ricky Lee Albert II was told that his traveling coordinators were working on getting his colleagues and him out, but he did not foresee being flown out within the day.
“This is the worst I’ve seen it, and I’ve traveled for the last seven years with my company and this is bad," Albert said.
Debbie Corbin, 46, and Tim Corbin, 50, from Pittsburgh, Penn., waited more than three hours to check in with Southwest Airlines about their luggage.
The couple told The Republic they were in town for a NASCAR race over at the Phoenix Raceway over the weekend. The couple planned to leave Phoenix on Monday to travel to San Diego to visit her brother. Their flight had originally been scheduled for 10:40 a.m., Debbie Corbin said.
They were immediately dropped into "the chaos" after they dropped off their rental car. Because of how packed the airport was, they got into the American Airline line by mistake. Eventually, they were able to make their way into the correct line but later found out that their flight had been canceled.
All of the flights to San Diego had since been fully booked, but she managed to find another plane flying out at 2:50 p.m.
Despite managing to book another flight out, Corbin says the outage could have been handled better by staff.
"People were standing in the wrong line because no one knew which line was Southwest or American. There was no direction from airport staff. There could have been someone outside checking bags and directing people into the correct line," Corbin said.
Southwest released a travel advisory to passengers Monday to issue refunds and to waive fees that usually come with switching flights. Some guests took to Twitter to express frustrations that airlines would not cover outside costs of the delays, like taxis or hotels.
Travelers say bathrooms were dysfunctional, terminals were hot
The bathroom situation was also less than ideal: They continued to let people into the bathrooms with non-flushing toilets. Maybe someone should have been directing people upstairs instead of continuing to "pile" on, Corbin said.
Water bottles were eventually handed out by staff due to the hot temperature, Corbin said.
Tempe resident Jason Jameson was headed back home from San Jose after he attended the 49ers vs. Cardinals game on Sunday when he received a notification upon arriving at the airport at around 8:30 a.m. that his 9:40 a.m. flight would be late.
But it was not until 9:10 a.m. that a gate agent announced that the outage had occurred in Phoenix.
According to Jameson, the agent said, "We're not even really sure what's going to happen so please just go visit any open Southwest Airline podium to find out what to do."
As soon as the announcement was made, Jameson opened the Southwest app to find another flight but was unable to book the next nonstop flight. However, he did manage to book a flight for 6:05 p.m. on Monday. There is still some uncertainty that a flight back will even take place, he said.
Some make the most of delayed flights
Hunter George and his wife spent the weekend in Tempe to visit his daughter for family weekend at Arizona State University.
When they arrived at the airport on Monday morning, they knew something was wrong.
"The scene in Phoenix was surreal. There had to be several thousand people waiting in line in semi-darkness on their phones trying to figure out whether their flight would depart or whether they had to rebook," George told The Arizona Republic.
Unfortunately, their flight took off without them since they could not get download their boarding passes and get through security.
"My immediate thought was, 'There it goes without us,'" George said.
They camped out at a nearby restaurant for a while so they could find another flight to Seattle. After an automated message from the airline, they were able to rebook another flight for Tuesday.
Despite the difficulties George and his wife faced, he was glad to be spending another night in "lovely Tempe."
"I am viewing this as a bonus night with my daughter," George said.
In a video uploaded to Twitter by Zach Levetan on Monday morning, an unidentified employee with Southwest Airlines could be heard singing an improvised parody of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" over the loudspeaker at gate C17 in Terminal 4.
"Two thousand miles, I roam / Just to make this gate my home," the employee sang. Near the end of the video, a crowd of passengers waiting at the gate cheered for the employee's effort to raise spirits.
"This man needs a promotion!!!" the tweet said.
Republic reporter Ryan Randazzo contributed to this report.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Sky Harbor power restored; outage impacted Southwest, American flights