Southwest Airlines has resumed operations after all traffic was halted due to “technology issues”
US carrier Southwest Airlines grounded all flights nationwide on Tuesday morning, blaming a “data connection issue” as passenger complaints piled up on social media. Some 1,700 flights were reportedly delayed in total – 40% of the airline’s schedule – with nine cancellations, according to the FlightAware tracking service.
The problem was the result of “data connection issues resulting from a firewall failure,” the airline said in a statement. “A vendor-supplied firewall went down and connection to some operational data was unexpectedly lostsccc.”
An all-clear message posted to the budget airline’s website explained Southwest “temporarily paus[ed] flight activity this morning to work on data connection issues.”
Passengers, some of whom had reportedly been sitting on the tarmac for hours with no news from Southwest other than a sprinkling of tweets from the @SouthwestAir account blaming “intermittent technology issues”, were offered “heartfelt apologies” and the opportunity to rebook their ticket for free.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed in a tweet that Southwest had requested the pause in operations “due to an internal technical issue.” The pause has been lifted and traffic has resumed as normal, the agency said, while Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg directed disgruntled passengers to the Department of Transportation’s website to learn their “rights as a passenger.”
Tuesday’s outage was the second major malfunction Southwest has experienced in less than six months. In December, nearly 17,000 flights were canceled the week of Christmas, leaving travelers stranded without their baggage in a total systemic collapse that was blamed on outdated computer systems.
The Department of Transportation subsequently opened an investigation into the airline, questioning whether it was scheduling more flights than it could realistically operate and whether it was withholding information from Congress about its plans to upgrade faulty software and compensation for passengers whose flights had been canceled over the holidays.
Southwest released a report on the Christmas meltdown earlier this month, reiterating that “insufficient winter infrastructure” and issues with its scheduling software were to blame. It claimed software upgrades were already underway and promised to have things in order by next winter.
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