Southwest Airlines grounded operations for two hours Tuesday, the second time in as many days that a computer issue has sidelined the Dallas-based carrier.
Southwest flights nationwide were delayed or canceled for about two hours Tuesday just after noon because of an error with its reservations system, causing the carrier to cancel about 500 flights Tuesday and delay hundreds more. The airline stopped flights for about two hours on Monday night due to a problem with weather software provided by a third-party company.
“Southwest is in the process of resuming normal operations after a brief pause in our flight activity resulting from intermittent performance issues with our network connectivity Tuesday afternoon,” said company spokesman Chris Mainz. Our teams are working quickly to minimize flight disruptions and customer impact. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to get them to their destinations.”
The FAA tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Southwest had requested a stop due to a “reservation computer issue.”
“The FAA issued a temporary nationwide ground stop at the request of Southwest Airlines while the company resolved a reservation computer issue,” the FAA’s public relation team tweeted. “Please contact the airline for further details.”
The software issues are a frustration for Southwest and passengers as air travel heads into a busy summer season and millions of Americans return to flying after avoiding crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Southwest flights were stopped Monday evening nationwide for about two hours after the company’s “third-party weather data provider experienced intermittent performance issues earlier this evening preventing transmission of weather information that is required to safely operate our aircraft,” Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said in a statement.
“While Southwest teams and the vendor worked to restore connectivity, we implemented a ground stop to protect the safety of our crews and customers,” Landson said. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to get them to their destinations as quickly as possible.”
Southwest was scheduled to fly about 3,300 flights nationwide on Tuesday, including about 330 flights out of Dallas Love Field. About 30 flights out of Dallas Love Field were canceled, according to Flightaware.com.
Some customers shared on social media that they were being delayed a second time after they weren’t able to make flights Monday night.
“@SouthwestAir after waiting over 12 hours for this rebooked flight, we are now on the tarmac for more technical issues, over 30 minutes from our rebooked flight,” Tweeted one Southwest customer. “Still being told we can’t get our bags so we can take another flight, still being told nothing about next steps.”
Several joked that Southwest Airlines, which is celebrating 50 years of operations this month, isn’t handling aging well.
Three weeks ago. American Airlines flights were temporarily sidelined due to a technical problem with reservations due to a problem with third-party provider Sabre Corp., which is based in Southwest. That problem slowed operations at several other airlines as well.
“It’s unfortunate that as the industry gears back up we’ve had a series of problems,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group. “The problem is that airlines rely on technology systems operated by third-party companies and sometimes it’s not even the vendor, it’s a vendor of a vendor.”
Problems like this can take a few minutes to resolve or hours. It can often take a day or more to fix all the problems and get customers back on track.
“If Facebook goes down, it’s an inconvenience,” Harteveldt said. “But if an airline goes down, it impacts that entire economy.”