Thunderstorm forces cancellation of 3,000 Delta flights

Passenger queues extended all the way through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport following a third consecutive day of major delays and cancellations today.

The airport is Delta Airlines’ main hub, so the carrier’s overall network was badly affected since Wednesday in a massive ripple effect. Over 500 flights were cancelled today as Delta grappled with finding available aircraft and crew to operate services. Delta representatives have confirmed that so far, approximately 3,000 of their flights had been cancelled because of the thunderstorm and subsequent issues surrounding positioning of planes and flight crew.

Rescheduling or rerouting has proven difficult too, as it is the start of Spring Break season and flights are already busy, making passenger reassignment challenging due their being very few seats free on other flights.

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Wednesday and Thursday night saw scores of passengers braving uncomfortable conditions to sleep overnight in the terminal after having their flights cancelled, others were left stranded on grounded aircraft until the early hours. Things hadn’t improved much by this morning, and although the bad weather had long gone, the knock-on effect of the cancellations meant that queues at Delta’s booking, check-in and baggage counters were horrendous. With everyone heading to the same areas to rebook their flights, the congestion in the airport led to queues for basic facilities such as toilets and baby change.

Delta customer services telephone lines were jammed and online systems also suffered due the extreme amount of traffic forced upon them following the multiple waves of flight cancellations. A huge number of passengers were unable to get basic information, let alone rearrange flights, using the app, website or customer contact centre.

Many travellers were so frustrated that they gave up and opted for alternative transport. Delta has made a statement informing passengers that those choosing not to board a flight will receive a full refund. In addition to this there would be no surcharges or administration fees for those wanting to reschedule their departure.

Delta Airlines has reassured passengers that they are doing everything they can to make a return to reliable operations. However, this has done little to ease the frustrations of some customers, who feel that the airline kept giving them false hope throughout the delays, before ultimately letting them down.