Hundreds of Southwest Airlines flights were canceled in the past 24 hours due to a series of technical issues, the airline said, leaving passengers distraught in airports across the country. By Tuesday afternoon, the most recent ground stop had been lifted and Southwest said it was "in the process of resuming normal operations."
The airline first grounded planes on Monday night after a third-party weather data provider experienced "intermittent performance issues" that kept it from transmitting data required to safely fly planes, the company said.
"While Southwest Teams and the vendor worked to restore connectivity, we implemented a ground stop to protect the Safety of our Crews and Customers," Southwest added.
According to the flight tracking service FlightAware, Southwest delayed more than 1,500 flights on Monday and canceled 45. Passengers documented the ground stop on social media, tweeting pictures of planes waiting on runways and sharing stories of disembarking from aircraft that had already pulled away from the gate.
"2 hours on plane from boarding to deplaning. About an hour more waiting at the gate for all-clear and re-boarding," one passenger tweeted about his experience.
The issue appeared to have been resolved on Monday. But the airline experienced another setback Tuesday, when it asked the Federal Aviation Administration to issue a ground stop due to another disruption.
In a new statement, Southwest said the "brief pause" in flight activity was caused by "intermittent performance issues with our network connectivity Tuesday afternoon." In its own statement, the FAA said Southwest was experiencing "a reservation computer issue."
The company also said it "proactively canceled" approximately 500 flights due to the outage, and is working with customers to get them to their destinations. According to Flight Aware, an additional 1,200 flights were delayed on Tuesday. Passengers documented the resulting chaos in some cities, sharing pictures of packed airports and flight arrival displays filled with delays.
This is not the first time technical issues have caused flight delays and cancellations. Just last month, a Sabre flight-booking system failed, causing delays on JetBlue and other airlines across the globe. When the Government Accountability Office studied these types of airline technical disruptions between 2015 and 2017, they found they occurred more than once a month.