Jamarion Givens was hundreds of miles away from home and flying alone for the first time, when a fire sparked a massive power outage at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Experts who study transportation infrastructure, however, expressed disbelief that such an incident could knock the Atlanta airport's power out for so long.
Delta canceled about 1,000 flights Sunday and 400 more on Monday, in many cases because the pilots and airplanes were in the wrong places.
The 24-hour delay meant Dr. Raymond Brewer had to miss scheduled surgeries. "The FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center verified stated there were "80 to 100" planes" parked on taxiways. "They actually extended our return flight one day so we'll still be able to take advantage of the full vacation". The cause of the fire was not known.
By about 11:30 p.m., power flickered back on at the atrium and several of the airports concourses, to cheers and applause.
The short answer is that an electrical fire in a tunnel beneath the airport crippled both the main power system and its backup. That brought the airport to a standstill and grounded more than a thousand flights.
Atlanta is reopen for business, with airlines playing catch-up. The Delta check-in process was organized and lines were moving, she wrote. She said police made passengers who were in the baggage-claim area move to a higher floor. "All these folks are going to require a lot of face time a lot of hand-holding". No one is saying anything official. She told us about the scary moments when the lights went out.
Trisha and Darryl Evert, and their daughter Ella were among those stuck for hours at the Atlanta airport. He was headed to Las Vegas with a sister and a friend. "It may take a couple hours to bring alternative power to the airport, but if the airport infrastructure itself was undamaged, it shouldn't have been almost as painful", said Joseph Schwieterman, a public policy professor at DePaul University who specializes in transportation and urban planning.
"We could always communicate better and more effectively", Reed said. American Airlines reported only a handful of diversions and cancellations because the carrier does not use Atlanta as a hub, airline spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello.
The Hartsfield-Jackson airport - serving 104 million passengers a year - is the world's busiest, a distinction it has held since 1998. The airport serves an average of 275,000 passengers daily, according to its website.
CNN's Betsy Klein spent almost seven hours in a plane on the tarmac, waiting to move.