Iberte and Heather Joestings, who is also from Georgia, were two hours into their a flight from Rhode Island to Atlanta, when their plane diverted to RDU Sunday afternoon.
Power was fully restored to the airport by 11:45 p.m. Sunday, but hundreds of flights to and from Atlanta Sunday were canceled.
Adding to the nightmare are what some passengers said was a lack of information from airport officials and help from first responders to get the disabled and the elderly through the airport without the use of escalators and elevators.
The blackout snarled flights at the bustling transit hub, forcing airlines to cancel 1,173 flights and delay 207 as of late Sunday, according to FlightAware.
The outage impacted passengers trying to get back to North Carolina as well.
Georgia Power's top executive apologized for the power outage that crippled Atlanta's airport, saying he realized that it inconvenienced thousands of people.
"There are just so few seats available during a peak holiday week, that's just going to take a lot of flights with four or five seats apiece", Mann said.
Passengers at the airport were left in the dark when the lights went out at around 1 p.m. "The people were helpless, they can't get down the stairs, it was just a nightmare". That report was unconfirmed, and Georgia Power said it was working with airport authorities to determine the cause of the outage.
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"We'll see if the power comes on before then or not", she said.
"Delta is aware of a power outage at the Atlanta Airport affecting airport concourses and terminal buildings", spokesman Michael Thomas told CNN.
Hartsfield-Jackson handles 2,500 flights and an average of 275,000 passengers daily, according to its website. Officials later elaborated to say a ground stop was in place, preventing Atlanta-bound flights from departing from other airports. Global flights were being diverted, officials said.
More than 104 million travelers passed through Atlanta's airport a year ago, making the Delta Air Lines hub the world's busiest for passenger traffic, according to Airports Council International.
Delta, which has its headquarters in Atlanta, canceled more than 900 flights Sunday.
"When the power goes out in one of the world's biggest airports. yikes!" The cause of the power outage at the nation's busiest airport has not been confirmed.
Some passengers were removed from planes on the tarmac via portable staircases. At one point, the crew said 92 planes were stuck on the tarmac, Klein said. "However, departures are delayed because airport equipment in the terminals is not working".
At Southwest Airlines, about 70 Atlanta departures out of 120 scheduled for Sunday were cancelled, an airline spokesman said in an email.