Southwest is back in the air after grounding all U.S. flights over technical issues

April 18, 2023, 3:00 PM UTC
A Southwest Airlines aircraft at a gate in Austin
All U.S. flights for Southwest Airlines were halted Tuesday.
Jordan Vonderhaar—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Southwest Airlines planes are back in the air after the carrier halted all U.S. flights for a period Tuesday morning, citing “equipment issues.”

The Federal Aviation Administration, at 10:36 a.m. ET on Twitter, said the carrier had requested the FAA pause all departures, but did not give additional details.

At 11:10 a.m. ET, the organization said flights had resumed.

Southwest, responding to multiple consumer complaints and inquiries on Twitter, wrote, “Technical errors are unexpected and inconvenient for all, and you have our sincere apologies.”

On the Southwest website, the company also mentioned problems with its technology on that side, which may or may not be related.

“We are currently experiencing delays updating your Upcoming Trip list in your account and used on our Homepage while logged in,” the advisory read. “This does not impact your trip itself. Recently purchased, changed, or cancelled trips may be delayed in posting to your Upcoming Trip list in your account or on the homepage of our website or app while logged in.  Our teams are working to urgently fix this issue.”

Some passengers complained on social media they had been stuck on planes for 1.5 hours, getting updates only every 30 minutes.

Southwest, in a statement, said any customers holding tickets for today could rebook their flight anytime within the next two weeks for no additional charge.

The ground stop came just four months after the carrier suffered an operational meltdown beginning Dec. 22, when a winter storm affected Chicago and Denver, two of the airline’s major hubs. That impacted the carrier’s flight rescheduling software, which was unable to keep up with the changes and eventually lost track of thousands of employees, leaving planes without pilots and flight attendant crews—and stranding workers alongside frustrated passengers. 

“We have some real work to do in making this right,” said CEO Robert Jordan at the time.  

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