Noted by the L.A. Times earlier today, American Airlines was forced to ground over 700 flights today around the United States due to a software glitch that caused the company’s computer network to become completely unusable. Thousands of passengers around the country were forced to wait for hours in terminals while American Airlines worked to restore functionality to the company’s computer system. According to a video statement posted by American Airlines CEO Tom Horton, built-in redundancies failed after the software issue took down both the primary and backup systems. The computer system was returned to working order by 5 p.m. Eastern time.
American Airlines customers have been complaining on Twitter and other social media networks in an attempt to get the company’s attention. The social media team at American Airlines has spent the day responding to questions about rebooking flights, cancellations, lost luggage and other issues that customers are facing.
If travelers were already at the airport when the glitch occurred, American Airlines representatives offered to rebook travelers on another airline at no additional cost. If a traveler hadn’t arrived at the airport yet, they were able to rebook their ticket through American Airlines or a completely different carrier. American Airlines customers were also allowed to get a complete refund on their tickets if they choose not to travel. After the system came back online, there were significant delays in plane departure times at major airports such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami International and Chicago’s O’Hare International.
With the looming completion of the American Airlines merger with U.S. Airways, similar computer glitches could occur as the two companies attempt to merge their computer systems. United Airlines had a similar situation occur twice last year while attempting to merge systems with Continental. During August 2012, approximately 580 United flights were grounded and the United website was completely unavailable for about two hours. Another computer glitch occurred during November 2012 that delayed over 600 United flights.