Airline Computer Glitches: What Travelers Can Do

As of today, flights on Southwest Airlines appear to be back to normal after what one media report described as a day of “pure hell” for passengers.

Southwest: Airline Computer Glitches Fixed

The carrier said “technical issues” resulted in more than 800 delayed flights throughout Oct. 11. It was easy to see why: in airports across the nation, Southwest employees frantically wrote out boarding passes and bag tags by hand, a lengthy and tedious process that created lines of travelers extended outside the terminals (especially unpleasant in heat wave cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas). By this morning, the carrier said technical systems were expected to “perform normally” [and your editor found this was indeed the case at Salt Lake City’s airport].

However, Southwest’s website noted that, “We have some additional work to do to get bags delivered and some delayed or displaced customers into open seats today” so it appears it’s not quite over yet.

What Travelers Can Do

Situations like this crop up from time to time; in July, United flights were grounded for a few hours thanks to computer problems. So what’s a passenger to do?

  • Be sure airline has your contact info: When booking a flight, be sure to leave a phone number and email address; an airline can’t tell you about a problem if they can’t reach you.
  • Follow the airline on Twitter: Most airlines monitor social media carefully and are quick to respond to problems. Always follow your airline; it may be the best way to contact them if you need help.
  • Get to the airport early: When in doubt, get to the airport early. Sometimes airport kiosks are the only way to print out boarding passes but even if you’ve got it on your phone (or printed it out at home), others who failed to do this will clog up security lines and could make you late for your flight.
  • Get PreCheck: Then you won’t have to worry about others who clog up security lines.


Updated: October 12, 2015