Reservation system restored, but American Airlines delays persist

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by JASON WHEELER, JOSH DAVIS and MARJORIE OWENS

WFAA and Associated Press

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 5:38 AM

DFW AIRPORT — American Airlines said its online reservation system was fixed late Tuesday afternoon after an outage halted takeoffs in all airports where the Fort Worth-based airline flies. But that didn't mean the delays were over.

"Our systems have been fully restored, however we expect continued flight delays and cancellations throughout the remainder of the day," said a statement on American's Facebook page.

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, American and American Eagle had canceled more than 700 flights nationwide; another 765 flights were delayed, airline spokeswoman Stacey Frantz said.

The airport said American canceled 262 departures on Tuesday evening.

For much of Tuesday afternoon at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, hundreds of passengers were stuck on the ground; their travel plans very much up in the air.

"The negative aspect of it is, we don't know when well get to go home," said Christine Barrow, who was trying to get to Washington D.C.

The airline blamed a computer glitch in its reservation system, Sabre, for disrupting operations that led to the nationwide "ground stop" of all American flights.

A DFW Airport spokesman told us at least 400 arrivals and departures were canceled at DFW alone, and many more were delayed.

For the most part, passengers remained calm.

"It is what it is," said Chris Shatto.

Hours into the travel nightmare, DFW Airport officials said American asked that airport buses be deployed to pick up passengers stranded in loaded planes on the tarmac, some of them for hours. The jets couldn't return to the terminals — all the gates were full.

By phone, one of those passengers explained that everyone on board was pretty understanding, but that if the delay had lasted another hour, "It would've been ugly."

Now that its Sabre reservations system is back up and running, American offered assurances that it will accommodate all passengers who missed their flights by putting them on other American flights... or arranging to send passengers via other carriers.

In cases where a later flight isn't an option, the airline said it would refund passengers' money.

As the backlog of passengers was being processed, DFW Airport officials expected a busier than usual Tuesday night, and possibly more delays through Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning.

Passengers used social media to flood the airline with complaints.

American sent out apologies via Twitter, but didn't offer customers much information about when the problem would be fixed.

An FAA rule that went into effect in April of 2010 states that airlines that do not provide free food and drink on a plane that has been grounded for more than two hours or does not allow passengers to disembark after three hours face a fine of up to $27,500 a passenger.  

The airport and American worked together to prioritize the flights stuck on the tarmac to deplane passengers without violating FAA rules. Airport spokesman David Magaña said he was unsure if any flight was parked on the tarmac for more than three hours.

"This is life at the world's fourth-busiest airport," he said. "We're doing as best we can to make sure passengers are comfortable."

All concessions in Terminals A, B, C and D were staying open until midnight Tuesday to accommodate stranded travelers.

In another incident Tuesday afternoon at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, DFW's ordnance detection team was called to Founders Plaza after receiving a call about a person behaving suspiciously, Magaña said.

Magaña said the calls came in about noon and reported that the man threw something into a trash can at the plaza. The detection team removed the item from the scene with a containment vessel and it was determined not to be a threat. The scene was cleared at 2:22 p.m.

"We didn't treat this thing any differently than we would've treated an unattended bag in a terminal that came up under suspicious circumstances," Magaña said.  "It does show people are on alert, and in the light of what happened [in Boston] yesterday, that's a good thing."


 


STATEMENT FROM D/FW AIRPORT:

Due to an American Airlines network system outage, all American flights departing Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport have been grounded until at least 4:00 PM CST.

DFW Airport has mobilized resources, including three large 90-passenger buses that have the capability to deplane aircraft without a gate.

At DFW, there are some aircraft on the ramps awaiting departure, as well as arrivals flights awaiting gate space. Aircraft have also returned to the gate and deplaned passengers.

All passengers are safe, and DFW will continue to work with American Airlines and all aviation service providers, as needed.

Due to the outage, DFW Airport has activated its Irregular Operations Concessions Plan. All Concessions location in Terminals A, B, C and D will remain open until at least midnight.

Also, the DFW Airport Department of Public Safety responded and investigated a report of a possible suspicious bag this afternoon at Founders Plaza, located at the north end of the Airport.

It was determined that the materials removed posed no threat and no flight operations were impacted as a result of this investigation.

As is usual procedure during such responses, Founders Plaza, as well as the roadway near the site, was briefly closed for about two hours.

The investigation was prompted at 12:30 PM when the suspicious-looking bag was reported.

DFW DPS responded with its ordnance detection unit and its mobile command post.

The investigation has concluded and the scene was cleared by first responders at 2:15 PM.


STATEMENTS FROM AMERICAN AIRLINES:

UPDATE as of 3:30pm CDT: Our systems have been fully restored, however we expect continued flight delays and cancellations throughout the remainder of the day. We have made several options available to our customers:

If customers must travel today and are 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 customers must travel today and are 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.

It is important to note we see no evidence that today’s technical outage is related to the tragic events in Boston.

We will continue to provide more information throughout the day as we make progress in resolving this issue. We apologize to our customers and our people for this inconvenience.

ORIGINAL STATEMENT:

American's network system is experiencing intermittent outages. At this time, we are holding all flights on the ground until later this afternoon, when we will provide another update.  We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as we can, and we apologize to our customers for this inconvenience.  

If your travel plans are flexible, there will be no charge if you would like to change your reservation and we will provide full refunds if your travel plans are not flexible.  However, we are unable to make changes to current travel plans until we have resolved this issue.
 
We will provide another update as soon as we have more information.

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