Last updated: 11:52 AM ET, Wed July 08 2015

United Airlines Ground Stop Lifted, Delays Continue

Impacting Travel | United Airlines | Patrick Clarke | July 08, 2015

United Airlines Ground Stop Lifted, Delays Continue

United Airlines flights are no longer grounded following a technical glitch suffered by the airline's computer system early Wednesday morning affecting as many as 3,500 flights.

According to NBC News, the ground stop, which was issued shortly before 8 a.m. ET on Wednesday, is expected to cause significant delays throughout the day that could be felt in hundreds of destinations throughout the U.S. and abroad. As many as 235 U.S. destinations and 138 international destinations could experience delays resulting from the unexpected ground stop.

"We experienced a network connectivity issue this morning," said United in a statement released on Wednesday morning. "We are working to resolve this and apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."

The Federal Aviation Administration attributed the ground stop to "automation issues" that resulted in an inability to check tickets and monitor flights. Airline workers had to write tickets by hand for passengers at some airports, however, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa International Airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps said that if a flight was already in the air when the issue occurred it was allowed to continue on to its destination. 

The ground stop was lifted for United's regional carriers around 9:20 a.m. ET and eventually lifted for all United flights shortly before 10 a.m. ET, according to the FAA.

The systemwide glitch led to massive backups at major airports like Los Angeles International, as pointed out by the Los Angeles airport police.

Boston's Logan International Airport, where United carries more than 12 percent of all passengers, was also hit hard by the ground stop. In addition to Los Angeles and Boston, delays are expected to be felt across the country, including places like Denver and Baton Rouge. 

According to WFAB 9 News, United Airlines Baton Rouge General Manager Brian Williams noted that there were more than 400 delays being experienced nationwide as a result of the systemwide issue.

Interestingly, the Roanoke Times reports the issues did not affect United flights departing from Virginia's Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport as those flights are considered express flights and therefore separate from mainline flights.

It's expected that aftershocks from the delay will have a large impact on business travel, as well. Mike Kelly, CEO of travel risk management company On Call International, a travel risk management company, said, “Although the FAA has lifted the grounding ban on all United Airline flights, the travel disruption that occurred this morning will still cause a massive interruption for business travel - negatively impacting the business operational costs of companies who had employees affected."

He added, "Any time that there is an airline travel issue such as this morning’s instance, the trickledown effect that it causes tends to impact business travelers and their employers for days if not weeks afterwards until operations return to normal.”

United's computer system suffered a similar issue just last month that caused its flights to be grounded nationwide for roughly 30 minutes. 

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