A developing travel nightmare at JFK airport extended into a second Friday, when all inbound and outbound flights at the New York hub’s international terminal were grounded — at least for the rest of the day, and possibly longer.
The uproar began Thursday morning when JFK Airport first tweeted about a “power outage” that was causing some terminal changes for departures and arrivals. Four hours later, it admitted the problem was escalating at Terminal 1, which serves more than a dozen international airlines and accounts for 8.5% of the airport’s total gates.
A power outage at JFK Terminal 1 is affecting the terminal’s ability to accept incoming and outgoing flights. We are working to accommodate affected flights with other terminals. Travelers, please check flight status with your airline before proceeding to the airport.
— John F. Kennedy Airport (@JFKairport) February 16, 2023
The outage was expected to be resolved by early to early Friday morning, but JFK Airport tweeted just before midnight that the terminal would remain closed for the remainder of the day. There was no update on when it might reopen.
According to the Port Authority, “an electrical panel failure overnight, which also caused a small individual fire that was immediately extinguished,” triggered the power problem. Travelers are advised to check with their airlines.
And as of Friday morning, the FAA’s website said the shutdown could last into late Saturday afternoon.
JFK Terminal 1 will be closed on 02/17. closed due to electrical problems as the port authority continues to work with the terminal operator to restore flight operations as soon as possible. Travelers should check with their airline for flight status before arriving at the airport.
— John F. Kennedy Airport (@JFKairport) February 17, 2023
Passengers stuck at the terminal say they are confused about where to turn next.
“I’m not sure what’s going on – nobody is aware of the situation, at least it seems so,” said frustrated passenger Anthony Russo, who was hoping to make it to London. “I had a lot planned, I wanted to see some friends, and now I don’t know what the hell is happening.”
Terminal 1 of JFK serves Aeroflot, Aero Mexico, Air China, Air France, AirPlus Comet, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Cayman Airways, China Airlines, China Eastern, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Olympic, Royal Air Maroc, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Turkish.
As of Thursday evening, airlines were writing their flight cancellations by hand because the big electronic board was still out. They gave flyers to passengers. One from Lufthansa began: “Unfortunately, your flight has been cancelled.”
Some travelers said their delayed flights would not take off for days, jeopardizing their travel plans or forcing them to cancel altogether. It’s the latest chaos-making problem to hit JFK, although two recent ones have involved air traffic control.
SWAPA, the union that represents Southwest Airlines pilots, says the way Southwest routes are designed is one of the reasons the airline has had a hard time recovering from delays and cancellations over the winter to recover.