Atlanta airport mess derails Boynton chief; farewell party on hold

Boynton Beach had big plans for its outgoing police chief Monday morning but when the guest of honor became victim to Atlanta airport’s massive flight cancellations the gathering was postponed.

Police Chief Jeffrey Katz was to fly on Sunday from Richmond, Va. to Atlanta and then from Atlanta to West Palm Beach. But when he checked in at the Richmond airport, a message from Delta clued him in on the national chaos: His first flight had been cancelled, and the one to West Palm had been labeled “misconnect.”

Hundreds of flights were cancelled because of a power outage that shut down the Atlanta airport.

NEW: Darkened Atlanta airport saw peanut stampede, dead phones, tears

Katz sounded like he was able to keep his cool despite never experiencing something like this.

And everyone else?

“I’d say people I observed were rolling with the circumstances fairly well. There were a few folks who were a little on edge, but I can’t speak to their circumstances; they may have had good reason,” he told The Palm Beach Post from Virginia.

Katz rented a car back to his home in Virginia — he’s retiring Wednesday to be police chief of Chesterfield County, Va. — and started the always stressful process of trying to get another flight.

The nearly three-hour phone call with Delta him gave him an option: A flight to West Palm on Wednesday or one into Fort Lauderdale that arrived at 12:15 a.m. Tuesday.

He chose a different route and booked a ticket with American Airlines that will get him in Monday night.

“Lots of people put in a great deal of extra work to get people to their destinations and I’m thankful for all of their efforts. It’s good to see people pull together during challenging circumstances,” he said.

As for the party, the planners are working to come up with a makeup date, said police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater.

Katz said he is disappointed because the party was an opportunity to say goodbye and thank you to the community, colleagues and friends.

For those he won’t see before he leaves, he offers this: “Thank you. I have nothing but love for the people I’ve served and served along side over the years and I’m grateful to everyone who gives of themselves for others.”

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