Southwest Airlines Flights Thrown Into Disarray by Technical Problems in 2021

Southwest Airlines

Problems led to the cancellation of 500 flights and hundreds of delays.


For the second day in a row, a technical problem confused Southwest Airlines Co. LUV -0.28% of operations, causing hundreds of delays and prompting the airline to cancel 500 flights.

Southwest said it is in the process of resuming normal operations, following what it called a systemic problem creating disruptions throughout its network. An airline spokeswoman said several systems were experiencing communication problems.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it temporarily suspended flights at Southwest at the airline’s request Tuesday while the company resolved the problem.

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The airline’s IT systems have often left them vulnerable to failures and breakdowns over the years.

The incident followed a two-hour shutdown of Southwest flights Monday night because of what the airline described as intermittent performance problems that prevented an outside weather data provider from relaying weather information to the airline. Nearly 1,500 Southwest flights were delayed Monday, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website, and customers took to social media to complain about long waits on the apron or at airports.

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The weather data provider, a division of IBM Corp. did not respond to requests for comment Monday or Tuesday.

A small number of delays and cancellations were postponed until Tuesday morning before the new issue. A Southwest Airlines spokesman said the airline is looking into whether the two incidents are related, but initial indications are that they are not.

Delta Air Lines Inc. separately reported that it had temporary problems with its online booking tools Monday night, but said the problem did not affect its operations.

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