Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


BREAKING: U.S. Flights Grounded Following FAA Computer Glitch

1 year ago

Flights across the U.S. have been grounded due to a computer glitch with the Federal Aviation Administration’s systems, according to reports.

The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system, which alerts pilots of potential hazards.

“The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System,” it posted on Twitter earlier. “We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected. We will provide frequent updates as we make progress.”

A total of 21,464 flights are scheduled to depart airports in the U.S. today, according to data from Cirium, with nearly 2.9 million seats available on these departures.

American Airlines has the most departures from US airports today (4,819), followed by Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines.

The FAA in a later notice said it had ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. Eastern Time to “allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information.”

Shortly before 9 a. m. it lifted the ground stop, posting on social media: “Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted. We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem.”

United Airlines told customers that they may continue to see some delays and cancellations as it works to restore its schedule, and that they should check its app or website.

The airline also activated a travel waiver for any customers who needs to change their plans, including offering refunds for customers who no longer want to travel.

The U.S. Travel Association said the “catastrophic system failure” caused 3,000 flight delays and several hundred cancellations across the country, and called for significant upgrades to be made.

“Americans deserve an end-to-end travel experience that is seamless and secure,” said president and CEO Geoff Freeman in a statement. “And our nation’s economy depends on a best-in-class air travel system. We call on federal policymakers to modernize our vital air travel infrastructure to ensure our systems are able to meet demand safely and efficiently.”

Airlines for America said it was working with the FAA and awaiting further information regarding when these issues will be resolved. It has urged travelers to download their airline’s app, visit the carrier’s website and ensure their contact information is accurate on travel records.

This breaking news story is being updated throughout the day


U.S. Wants to Ensure Flyers Get Refunds For Cancelled, Delayed Flights

2 years ago

U.S. authorities want to make it easier for air travelers to get a refund when their flight is cancelled or significantly delayed.

A new proposed rule from the Department of Transportation would define the specific instances where a traveler is entitled to a refund. While a cancellation is seemingly self-explanatory, a delay of more than three hours for U.S. domestic flights or more than six hours for international flights entitles a traveler to a refund, the regulator said Wednesday. In addition, refunds are guaranteed if the arrival or departure airport is changed, the number of connections increased, or the aircraft changed to one with a “significant downgrade” in the service level.

“When Americans buy an airline ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably, and affordably. This new proposed rule would protect the rights of travelers and help ensure they get the timely refunds they deserve from the airlines,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

The improved protections follow a surge in refund issues during the pandemic. The number of refund-related complaints jumped nearly 67-fold to 105,292 from January 2020 to June 2021, from 1,574 in 2019, according to the DOT.

Most airlines dropped change or refund fees and restrictions during the pandemic but, in many cases, travelers faced challenges getting a cash refund versus a voucher. The issues were more pronounced with foreign carriers, which are subject to the DOT’s new rules. In recent months, some airlines have reinstituted ticket change and cancellation restrictions, especially for the cheapest fare classes.

The DOT will hold a public meeting on the proposed rules on August 22, and the public comment period is open for 90 days.

Tags: dot, refunds