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Blackout at SFO delays flights, disrupts operations

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San Francisco International Airport lost power for approximately an hour Wednesday afternoon, leaving passengers grumbling, slamming ticket agents with lengthy check-in lines and halting everything from the AirTrain to escalators across the facility.

Power went off at approximately 4:45 p.m. due to a “switching problem” with the airport’s internal electric system, and officials Wednesday night were still trying to determine what went wrong, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said.

The emergency power system kicked in, feeding life safety systems, control tower communications and some light fixtures. Everything else was at a standstill.

“Ticket counters, baggage claim, AirTrain, the parking garages — pretty much everything was out,” McCarron said.

Departing flights were delayed by up to 30 minutes, airport duty manager Doug Lyon said. Though arriving flights had few problems, some kept passengers on the planes for up to 30 minutes, he said.

Most arriving flights touched down with no problems. Some planes that were set to connect with a powerless gate had to use their stairs to bring passengers off the plane and into the terminal.

Departing flights, however, were delayed because ticket agents could not process people’s itineraries.

A similar power outage happened four or five years ago, McCarron said.


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