Delta has canceled about 3,000 flights this week, after bad weather at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport — the world's busiest airport — led to a domino effect across the country.
Tired, angry, and desperate passengers remained stranded at airports on Friday. After Delta's home hub in Atlanta was thrown into chaos, the company's "recovery has not been ideal and we apologize for that," said Delta's Chief Operating Officer Gil West in a statement on Thursday. Making matters worse, "Heavy spring break travel means open seats are very limited for rebooking," the airline said Friday morning.
Atlanta was hit by severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and hail on Wednesday. About 1,000 flights were canceled that day, another 900 on Thursday, and about 200 more as of Friday morning, reported the Atlanta Business Chronicle, citing data from FlightAware.com. Problems in Atlanta impacted Delta flights at other airports.
Systemwide, "cancellations related to weather and subsequent crew and aircraft positioning total approximately 3,000 this week," Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant told BuzzFeed News. "Delta continues to position aircraft and flight crews Friday following the impact of severe weather in Atlanta, the mid-Atlantic region and the Northeast this week."
This is what Atlanta looked like as the storm passed through on Wednesday.
West, Delta's operations chief, explained in his statement how a day of bad weather can become a multi-day logistical nightmare.
"When Delta doesn’t fly aircraft, not only do customers not get to their destination, but flight crews don’t get to where they are scheduled to be," he said. "When this happens, unfortunately, further delays and cancellations result. And flight crews can only be on duty for a limited time before rest periods are required by law."
Delta is offering customers a refund if their flight is canceled and they do not travel, and will waive change fees for customers.
Meanwhile, Delta crew members also report being stranded in airport lounges far from their home cities as the airline works through a massive scheduling backlog for employees.