United Airlines grounded by software glitch

United Airlines flight departures were voluntarily halted across the US and Canada Tuesday afternoon after a “systemwide technology issue.”

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the United stoppage request on X (formally known as Twitter) around 1:30 pm ET Tuesday.

“@united asked the FAA to pause the airline’s departures nationwide. For more information, contact United regarding its request and monitor http://fly.faa.gov for updates,” the FAA posted.

United put out its own statement about the systemwide failure affecting all departures.

“We are experiencing a systemwide technology issue and are holding all aircraft at their departure airports,” United posted.

“Flights that are already airborne are continuing to their destination as planned. We will share more information as it becomes available,” the statement said.

FAA officials said the widespread slowdown in United's technology systems had made it difficult for communications between crews and contact airline dispatchers through normal means.

“A software update caused a widespread slowdown in United’s technology system, the FAA said. The airline also said that the incident was not a cybersecurity issue.

Thanking its customers for their patience, United came back on X roughly an hour later to say it had fixed the issue and was back up and running,

“We have identified a fix for the technology issue, and flights have resumed. We’re working with impacted customers to help them reach their destinations as soon as possible,” United posted.

Even though the outage was fairly short-lived, some passengers were frustrated by the airline's lack of communication and not knowing if the delays would cause them to miss a connecting flight.

“Still waiting nearly three hours for a live United representative,” one user posted on X (formally known as Twitter).

“Weird, because NO ONE is helping me get to my destination…flight delayed…trying to find out if I’ll make my connection. No one at the United desk in this airport and no one at the gate despite the fact our delayed departure time is in 30 min!” the user posted.

Last Monday, British air traffic control (NATS) had to restrict all flights in and out of London airports for hours, also because of a “technical issue.”

Similar to the US Labor Day holiday weekend, the number of travelers was more than average for the UK bank holiday, marking the end of a summer three-day weekend.

The nationwide grounding caused massive flight delays –some up to 12 hours – and cancellations for thousands of passengers in the UK and abroad.

The next day, NATS put out a follow-up statement on the outage, claiming it was definitely not a cyberattack but related to ”some of the flight data we received. Our systems, both primary and the back-ups, responded by suspending automatic processing” as a safety measure.

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