FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A computer problem created a backup of American Airlines planes at DFW International Airport and every U.S. airport where American flies. The technical issues, that resulted in a "system-wide ground delay" across the country, started around Noon and weren't resolved for nearly four hours.
Sources told CBS 11 News that a "firewall issue" was preventing the carrier's computers from working properly. The airline was reportedly unable to receive flight plans and performance data, and could not account for who was boarding each plane. So, the airline stopped boarding passengers and held all flights on the ground until the problem was fixed.
An American Airlines spokesperson confirmed that the computer system was fully restored as of 3:30 p.m. Now the airline is dealing with the delays and cancellations that resulted from the ground stoppage.
American is offering the following options for customers:
- If a customer must travel today and is already at the airport, they can rebook on another airline by visiting an American Airlines agent or by going to the other airline's ticket counter with their electronic ticket number.
- If a customer must travel today and is not yet at the airport, they can rebook through American Airlines reservations or through another carrier and American will honor the fare difference.
- If a customer chooses not to travel today, there will be no charge for reservation changes or a full refund will be provided.
In addition to not being able to make reservations on American or rebook canceled flights, the computer problems left the airline unable to retrieve the flight data that must be linked to each aircraft before takeoff. The airline's computing system couldn't communicate that information and that meant planes could not leave airports.
"We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience," airline spokeswoman Andrea Huguely told CBS 11 News.
Chopper 11 was over the airport Tuesday afternoon and spotted dozens of American Airlines jets lined up at the gates. Sources said that arrivals were landing at the airport as scheduled, but no flights were able to depart. This created a huge backup at airports nationwide, and especially here in North Texas since DFW Airport is a primary hub for American Airlines.
There has been no official estimate released on the number of people affected by the ground stoppage, but thousands of American passengers were stranded at airports and on airplanes.