LAX power outage leaves many travelers grounded; Southwest cancels flights
LAX chaos continues with terminal evacuation.
Los Angeles International Airport lost power Wednesday evening, the result of a glitch at a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power station, an airport spokeswoman said.
Olga Gallardo, an LAX spokeswoman, said the outage occurred shortly before 6:30 p.m. and that generators immediately kicked in.
It takes about 1½ hours for the Transportation Security Administration and other airport staff to reboot everything, she said.
“Everything is back on and running,” Gallardo said Wednesday evening. “When there is a power outage, the generators automatically kick in.”
But that statement contradicted what travelers were sharing on social media. The airport continued to experience issues and flight cancellations Thursday morning even after power had been restored.
Later in the evening, LAX said on Twitter that power was restored to most terminals and systems, but there were still issues at Terminals 1, 7 and 8.
“We have crews on the scene working to restore power fully,” the airport said in a statement. “Check your flight status with your airline, as delays are possible.”
At 9:35 p.m., the airport announced that power was restored to Terminal 7. Power was back on at Terminal 8 roughly 10 minutes later. Terminal 1 had power around 10 p.m., Gallardo said.
On Twitter, users discussed being stuck on planes sitting on the tarmac. Others raised concerns about when they would see their luggage again.
“My latest dose of bad luck: ALL of LAX airport has lost power and my luggage is being held hostage. No air, no power, and having to siphon off my laptop’s battery to keep my phone alive,” one user tweeted. “But I’m here!”
Both the Southwest and United terminals seemed to be affected by the outage. Late Wednesday, Southwest said all flights out of LAX were canceled. It was unclear if any of the airline’s flights were still inbound to LAX or had been diverted.
“Power Outage in LAX Terminal 7 is causing stoppage in United check-in process. Any ETA for resolution. Everyone is in waiting mode with zero progress,” one user tweeted at United.
Joelle Lai, a 35-year-old graphics and marketing coordinator, was waiting 10 minutes in a stalled security line when she got a text message that her flight to Las Vegas was canceled.
“I should have just driven, I would have been there already,” she said.
Lai had planned to join her friends in Vegas and her boyfriend was already on his way there.
“I think I just have bad luck,” she said, adding that the last time she came to the airport in April, her flight was delayed for two hours. Lai said she was now considering driving to Vegas.
Meanwhile, passengers who arrived at 7:29 p.m. on a Southwest flight from Vegas were still stuck on the tarmac at 9 p.m.
Airline staff told the passengers that they couldn’t communicate with staff inside the airport because of the outage, and they were waiting for stairs to become available so they could deplane.
Outside the airport, multiple traffic lights were down for several hours, making traffic even more congested than usual. Even the colorful LAX pylons were dark.
At Terminal 1, travelers told The Times via Twitter that the power was still out. Backup lighting was on, but several screens, outlets and power in shops did not have electricity. Without computers, Southwest customer service couldn’t change flights for anyone, and the hold time with the airline was up to almost three hours, one user said.
One Southwest staffer said over an airport speaker: “We are not able to rebook you because, as you can see, the power is out.” The staffer said the airline didn’t have access to its computers.
People were huddled in large groups awaiting direction as gate attendants provided limited information. People in the security line were sitting on the ground, and one lying down while reading a book.
“It’s inexcusable for a world city airport,” said Sean Cooney of Los Angeles, who was waiting at Terminal 1.
Cara Fox-Galassi, of Chico, Calif., was on a Southwest flight leaving for Sacramento at 6:30 p.m. when the power on the plane — which was fully boarded — went out.
“It was honestly very disconcerting when it happened since no one knew what was going on and phones weren’t working,” Fox-Galassi said.
The plane started making beeping noises, and the captain soon told passengers that because they were still plugged into the terminal power, they would need to switch over to the plane’s power source to leave.
The flight crew worked with airport workers on the tarmac to tow the plane from the jet bridge.
“After 1.5 hours sitting on the plane ... he was able to get us off,” Fox-Galassi said. “He knew once power came back on we would be in a two-hour line waiting on the tarmac.”
Once the plane was in the air, the pilot announced to passengers that they’d been the only Southwest flight to leave within that hour.
Michael Sundquist, a 59-year-old dean at Modesto Junior College, had driven from Sayulita, Mexico, to board a plane from Puerto Vallarta to L.A.
Things were fine at the international terminal, but when he got to the terminal to go through security for his flight to San Jose, “everything was dark.”
“It’s a bit inconvenient, but travel is uncertain,” he said.
His car was waiting for him in San Jose for the additional drive back home to Modesto, but by about 8 p.m., it was unclear whether he would do the last leg of his trip.
“Depends on how late it is. It’s already been a long day,” Sundquist said.
Later, Sundquist received a message that his flight was canceled, and he left the line to find a hotel room.
The view from Sacramento
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