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TikToker shows airport chaos caused by AT&T outage

‘So many people couldn’t pull up their tickets on their phones, airport wifi is slow and congested, and ticketing lines are chaotic,’ TikToker said

Brittany Miller
New York
Friday 23 February 2024 05:17 GMT
Related: EE Down: 4G, Data and phone calls not working as users complain about service

When AT&T went down on Thursday, it left people unable to make phone calls – including to 911.

Amid the phone service outage, one person named Leo took to TikTok to show what effect the outage had on people who were at the airport. “Great day to be at the airport with a national AT&T outage,” text across the screen read as Leo appeared sarcastically holding a thumbs up.

“So many people couldn’t pull up their tickets on their phones, airport wifi is slow and congested, and ticketing lines are chaotic. I can just imagine how many people will be late for their flights!” he captioned his video.

This disruption extended far beyond typical communication services, like making calls and sending texts, for travellers. The biggest issue for them seems to be the inability to access their boarding passes. Leo’s brief narrative sets the stage for a broader discussion about our reliance on digital connectivity, especially in crucial moments like navigating airports. Viewers argued that this is exactly why they either screenshot or print their boarding passes, as technology can be unreliable.

After his TikTok was viewed more than 700,000 times, many people took to the comments to give suggestions on what should have been done to prevent the chaos.

“Just use airport wifi,” one commenter said, as AT&T had recommended that affected users get onto WiFi and use that to call people.

Leo responded to the comment in a video clarifying that everyone was trying to connect to the airport’s WiFi, but there was little success with so many people attempting to connect at once.

Another commenter joked, “Lol. I bet someone’s airport dad is like ‘THIS is why I print my tickets.’”

“Great time to remind ppl to download the boarding passes to your wallet,” one commenter pointed out.

“Y’all don’t screen shot your tickets?” another commenter questioned.

Many people also ended up taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, to compare the situation to the Netflix movie Leave The World Behind, which was released a few months ago with a tagline that felt a little familiar. The tagline reads,  “No internet. No phones. No going back to normal.”

“Predictive programming from the Netflix movie Leave The World Behind. ‘No internet. No phones. No going back to normal,’” one tweet read.

“Me after watching leave the world behind and then seeing SOS only trending,” another tweet read.

The outage at the US’s biggest phone network led to warnings from emergency services and advice from companies to get around the issue.

The problems began early Thursday morning. AT&T said it was aware of the issue and working urgently to fix it – but did not give any indication of why it had happened or when it might be resolved.

AT&T has around 250 million customers, making it the US’s biggest phone network by some distance.

As of Thursday afternoon, the mobile network company has said that 75 per cent of its network has been restored.

“Our network teams took immediate action and so far three-quarters of our network has been restored,” the company said. “We are working as quickly as possible to restore service to remaining customers.”

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