Technical issues last Sunday caused hundreds of scheduled flights of Southwest Airlines to be delayed. The Dallas-based airline reported that some 300 flights were delayed in the afternoon.
Manual check-in of passengers
The intermittent tech glitches were experienced not only on their website, Southwest.com but also in the airports and reservation centers across their system as well as in their Southwest mobile app. Travelers were requested to arrive two hours earlier before their departure time so that delays could be minimized because passengers have to be checked-in manually.
Very long queues
Many people, from passengers to airport crew and airport police sent messages over social networking sites, sharing stories and documenting the events with pictures and messages. Airport police in Los Angeles uploaded photos of long lines of passengers on Twitter, and asked passengers to arrive earlier than usual.
While many of the passengers were accommodated in some airports, other airports had very long queues. At Denver International Airport, a passenger estimated that there were more than 1,000 people waiting in line at the check-in counter. Emily Mitnick said that she missed her morning flight to Detroit scheduled for 10 in the morning despite arriving at the airport two hours earlier. The scheduled flight took off but she was not on it.
In Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, the line was wrapped around the airport building and there were still more people lined up on the street. It took more than two hours before some of the passengers were issued boarding passes.
Not an isolated case
In recent months there had been a spate of technical glitches that affected the airline service in the United States. On September 8, there was a two-hour crash of the website of United Airlines. It was fortunate that passengers were able to check-in through airport kiosks and mobile apps. On September 17, American Airlines had to hold flights in three major airports for two hours due to computer failure. In July, the same thing happened to United Airlines – a two-hour delay that affected United’s flight schedules nationwide.
Southwest cannot determine the cause of the glitch but said it was not caused by hacking. About 3,600 flights were scheduled last Sunday, with about 450 of them delayed. The company said they are already trying to fix the problem.
Southwest Airlines is the fourth-largest airline in the country by traffic and the top passenger airline for domestic fliers.
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