Day 3: More snags as Delta tries to get back on track

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Delta’s technological snag has been resolved but cancellations and delays continued into Wednesday as the airline struggled to reset its international flight schedules and get thousands of employees back into their regular rotations, according to officials.

More than 300 flights were canceled system-wide Wednesday afternoon, in addition to the 800 scrapped Tuesday and 1,000 canceled Monday. Hundreds of other flights were delayed Wednesday.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers have been stranded overnight throughout the ordeal, many spending the night in airports around the globe. Others were put up in hotels by Delta, including 2,300 in Atlanta alone Tuesday night.

But Wednesday’s delays are not due to the initial technology crash, which has been resolved, officials said.

“Teams across the airline continued work during the overnight hours to bring an end to the impact of Monday’s outage that disrupted operations,” officials said on the airline’s website. “Technology systems that allow airport customer service agents to process check-ins, conduct boarding and dispatch aircraft are functioning normally.”

Instead, lingering delays are due to difficulties getting the airline and its employees back on schedule following widespread disruption.

“The bulk of the delays and cancellations (Wednesday) are coming as a result of crews displaced or running up against their maximum allowed duty period following the outage,” Delta spokesman Charles Edwards said.

Edwards did not have specific data on how many of the delays and cancellations Wednesday affected Detroit Metro Airport travelers, but he advised customers to check or the airline’s app, Fly Delta.

“We just don’t have a number for a specific region,” he said. “But we do anticipate returning to a normal operation by either mid-afternoon or late-afternoon (Wednesday).”

Detroit Metro Airport officials reported smooth operations at the terminals Wednesday.

“We haven’t noticed many long lines,” spokesman Brian Lassaline said. “There are still delays and cancellations that travelers will notice.”

Lassaline, like Edwards, did not have specific data on the number of Delta cancellations and delays to hit Metro Airport. “The best advice is to continue to keep in touch with the airline and check flight status prior to coming to the airport,” he said.

The weather forecast is primed to become the next culprit responsible for travel issues.

The possibility of thunderstorms along the eastern United States Wednesday may prompt a new round of cancellations and delays, Edwards said. But those travel woes would be unrelated to Monday’s technological failure.

The problems started early Monday when a critical piece of equipment failed at the airline’s headquarters, according to a statement by Chief Operating Officer Gil West. That failure caused a loss of power, forcing a switch to a backup.

“We were able to stabilize the universal power and quickly restore power, but when that happened, some of our network equipment did not switch over to the backup system,” Edwards said Wednesday.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers were stranded overnight throughout the ordeal, many spending the night in airports around the globe. Others were put up in hotels by Delta, including 2,300 in Atlanta alone Tuesday night.

Delta extended until Wednesday a travel-waiver policy to help stranded passengers rearrange their travel plans. It offered refunds and $200 in travel vouchers to people whose flights were canceled or delayed at least three hours.

Unaccompanied minors also are allowed to travel again after a brief stay in the practice during the height of the crisis, officials said.

Airlines have been packing more people in each plane, so when a major carrier has a technology crash it’s harder to find seats for the waylaid. Last month, the average Delta flight was 87 percent full.

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The Associated Press contributed.