Software Flaw Caused Southwest Ticket Crunch

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 @ 01:10 PM gHale

A failed software application prevented passengers from checking in for their Southwest Airlines flights and caused widespread delays around the U.S. Sunday.

To date, Southwest has provided few details about the source of the problem, which resulted in 836 delays out of 3,355 scheduled flights and created long lines at numerous U.S. airports. The problem forced the airline staff to manually issue tickets and use backup systems to check travelers into their flights.

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Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said workers had fixed a failed software application that had caused the problems. He did not provide more details or describe the application but said there was no indication that hackers were to blame.

This was not the first issue an airline had regarding computer systems. American Airlines just experienced technical difficulties and United has already had two major outages this year.

“It was much more than a bag glitch. They were down to writing tickets and boarding passes by hand,” said Joe Brancatelli, who covers travel issues for “It seemed like a systemwide outage of their passenger service systems.”

Brancatelli said the complexity of the programming and networking that keeps passengers moving when it works correctly works against a quick fix when something goes wrong.

“The systems do so much that there are a million things that must be restored when there’s an outage,” he said. “The problem, at base, is that everything is essentially automated now because airlines are trying to drive down costs and once something blows, the whole system bogs down.”

Southwest issued a statement Monday letting travelers know that the system should be back up and running:

“Today we are expecting the technical systems that power our Customer Service to perform normally. Teams worked throughout the night in advance of our first departures to ensure the smoothest operation of our originating and later flights.”