LAX Terminals Plunged Into Darkness Due to Power Outage

June 07, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Air travel comes with a natural set of anxieties, from making sure everything is packed to getting to the airport and through the security checkpoint on time.  Then, of course, there are potential flight delays, which can elevate tension levels, especially when connecting flights are involved.  But, those are the things to which travelers are accustomed.

What they are not prepared for are events like what happened at LAX earlier this week, when a power outage plunged the entire airport into darkness shortly after 6:00pm Wednesday.  While backup generators kicked in immediately to supply emergency lighting, most of the airport was left in the dark, including rendering jet bridges unusable, stranding inbound passengers on their planes. 

Most of the airport was back online within an hour, but three terminals (1, 7, and 8) weren’t up and running for several hours.  Terminal 1 finally was restored around 10:00pm.  The outage caused many delays, more than 50 cancellations, and several diverted inbound flights.

While airlines expected normal operations to resume Thursday morning, Terminal 1, which hosts Southwest Airlines, was evacuated as a security precaution, due to problems with passenger and baggage rescreening after the power outage.  According to a TSA spokesperson, passengers whose flights had been cancelled were granted access to their checked luggage, resulting in prohibited items being brought into the terminal area, forcing the evacuation and re-entry process.

The outage is being blamed on a power surge at a substation off the airport, which disrupted power to LAX.

Beyond the mere chaos a power outage creates, airports – and every other business, small or large – face additional dangers from power surges that are common with outages.  Voltage fluctuations can easily damage equipment, requiring potentially expensive and time-consuming repairs that can keep operations offline for days or even weeks.  No technology is immune; any systems that keep businesses operational are at risk – unless they are shielded by a power protection system.

Power protection systems are specifically designed to regulate voltage as it enters a facility, before it is distributed to systems, ensuring a continuous flow of clean power to prevent damage.  Systems can be designed from any size business to accommodate all critical infrastructure. 

Businesses can’t do anything about power outages – they are bound to happen, and they are never convenient.  But, corporate executives and IT leaders can ensure their technology investments are safe from electrical damage, so that, when power is restored, operations can resume immediately.

Edited by Erik Linask