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Southwest computer outage temporarily grounds flights, causes delays


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Even with free bags, Southwest collected
$642 million in passenger fees in 2018.
USA TODAY

Southwest Airlines suffered a computer outage early Friday that temporarily grounded flights across the country, adding to a string of flight woes at the airline this week.

Southwest had some issues with a computer system that automatically uploads flight plans to the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

The situation was resolved around 6:25 a.m. ET, he said.

Southwest said in a statement that it suspended operations for about 50 minutes early Friday to “ensure performance” of software systems that were upgraded overnight. The matter didn’t cause any flight cancellations, spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said, but early morning flights on the East Coast were delayed by an average of 40 minutes. 

Southwest is still showing a high volume of flight delays Friday with more than 650 flights, or 16 percent of scheduled flights, delayed as of 11:45 a.m. ET, according to flight tracker FlightAware

It is not clear whether those delays are lingering effects from the outage or mainly related to weather and Southwest’s ongoing operations emergency due to a higher than usual number of aircraft out of service.

Southwest has canceled more than 1,000 flights in the past week due to the maintenance issues and winter weather across the country, including rare snow at its Las Vegas hub. The airline canceled nearly 400 flights on Thursday alone.

Southwest has blamed its mechanics union for the maintenance delays, and the union says Southwest is making them scapegoats for safety issues.

The good news for travelers: Southwest’s Friday cancellations are the lowest they’ve been in a more than a a week. The airline has canceled 73 Friday flights, according to FlightAware. Agnew attributed those to lingering issues in Las Vegas, weather in Denver and the aircraft out of service.

Travelers on social media continue to gripe to Southwest, which has rich customer loyalty, about this week’s flight issues.

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