Southwest Airlines flights nationwide were temporarily halted on Wednesday due to technology issues resulting from an outage, generating extensive delays and inconveniences to passengers while the airline tried to fix the problem.

The Dallas-based company called for a temporary “ground stop,” preventing any flight that had not yet left the gate to depart, spokesman Brad Hawkins said in a statement, according to Business Insider. This affected hundreds of flights through the whole network.

Southwest Airlines, Boeing 737-76Q. Credit: Wikipedia

A fail on Southwest’s website did not let customers buy tickets, check in for flights, or obtain boarding passes, making lots of passengers unable to cross over security checkpoints in the airport. Customers let the airline know their complaints through social media.

Chaos generated in landing tracks

With gates occupied by the halted planes, arriving planes did not have a place where they could disembark their passengers, so they walked in lines through the airport tracks in some cases.

By 1 p.m. the airline lifted the ground stop. However, reported that by Wednesday evening, the airline had canceled 17 flights, and delayed at least 245 others.

Southwest Airlines apologized to the affected customers and added that although it had a team of experts working to solve the problem of the system, return to normal operation would take more time than expected, mentioning Thursday morning as a possibility.

The company is taking responsibility for passengers affected by the outage in any way. While it is trying to accommodate passengers as much as they can, it has also allowed them to reschedule their flights themselves. The airline will not charge change fees.

Hawkins assured that the outage did not affect in-flight or safety systems. The airline did not share details about what caused the blackout.

It is not the first time Southwest experiences an outage. On October 2015, more than 800 flights were delayed. Employees were manually issuing tickets and boarding passes. According to the airline explanation, a software application failed, generating inconveniences during the whole day.

Source: Dallas News