THOUSANDS of Southwest Airlines flights have been delayed after a systemwide outage forced the company to issue a stoppage on all flights across the US.
The latest travel delays from Southwest come just four months after the carrier suffered a meltdown over the Christmas holiday rush that saw nearly 17,000 flights canceled.
Southwest requested a ground stoppage at around 10.30am on Tuesday while it worked on fixing “intermittent technology issues.”
“As a result of the intermittent technology issues that we experienced, we should hopefully be resuming our operation as soon as possible,” the airline replied to several customer complaints on Twitter.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that Southwest requested a pause in all the airline’s departures.
The ground stoppage was lifted just before 11am, resuming takeoffs, however, travelers can expect flight delays.
“Early this morning, a vendor-supplied firewall went down and connection to some operational data was unexpectedly lost,” the airline said in a statement.
The airline said its team worked quickly to “minimize flight disruptions” and asked Southwest travelers to check the company’s website for flight status updates.
About 800 flights were grounded at the time of the stoppage, with Southwest delaying more than 1,700 scheduled flights, according to FlightAware.
Several irate travelers took to Twitter to report flight delays and their planes sitting on the runway.
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Tom Miller, a morning anchor at NBC affiliate KXAN News, was on a flight out of Austin, Texas, when the outage affected his travel plans.
“Currently stuck on a @SouthwestAir plane at @AUStinAirport. @KXAN_News confirms Southwest told AUS just before 9 am about system-wide technology malfunction.”
A second passenger traveling to Houston shared: “Traveling to Houston for work. And Southwest Airlines once again causes a s**t storm. Time for a new airline.”
“Ugh oh. Southwest Airlines. Here we go again,” another traveler wrote.
While the airline blamed the cancellations on the severe winter weather that hit the Midwest at the time, technical issues and staff shortages also played a role in the meltdown.
Between December 21 and December 31, 2022, nearly two-thirds of the airlines’ flights were slashed for three days as they tried to reset.
The airline was staffed and ready for the holiday rush, but weather conditions such as severe cold, wind, and ice threw a wrench in its operations, according to Southwest.
Widespread flight cancellations caused waves of schedule changes among crew members, overwhelming the software system Southwest uses to assign pilots and flight attendants after disruptions.
The airline said those who experienced disrupted holiday travel from December 24, 2022, through January 2, 2023, can claim money back.
Customers can either rebook their flight or request a refund on its website.
Southwest customers can anticipate getting a refund worth up to $3,800.
The Department of Transportation has since opened an investigation into the airline’s meltdown in December 2022.
The probe will examine whether Southwest is scheduling more flights than it can handle.