United Airlines lifts nationwide ground stop and is back in the air

Photo (c) vandervliet93 - Getty Images

One can only hope that the long, tension-filled summer for travelers will end sometime soon

What started out as a bad Friday for United Airlines has started to turn for the better. After a systems outage brought the airline to a nationwide ground stop in both the U.S. and Canada, its fleet is back up in the friendly skies, according to reports from various media sources and the Federal Aviation Administration’s website.

In addition to flights being halted, there were reports that United’s app and website also were crippled, preventing travelers from checking in or boarding flights.

Just before 8 a.m. EDT on Friday, United issued a statement saying that it had “experienced technical system issues” and that all systems were back to normal.

“We are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it as quickly as possible,” the company wrote on Twitter, addressing consumer complaints. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

Travel frustrations continue

The end of the summer travel season hasn't reduced the frustrations of travel. American Airlines wrestled with a fuel shortage, and Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Alaska Airlines all suffered technical glitches that caused thousands of flight delays and cancellations. There's the laundry list of incidents about unruly behavior, too.

All of these stress points have put both travelers and airlines in a cautious dance trying to keep things under control. One ConsumerAffairs reviewer recently wrote that the great customer service she used to get from Southwest has declined a bit.

"I used to LOVE Southwest Airlines above all other companies. From the first moments I walked into the baggage line to the plane ride. It was top notch customer service. I even use their credit card. Last year I started noticing a decline in their kindness, but I chalked it up to Covid,” wrote Danielle of Virginia.

“It’s been hard year on us all," she continued. "The last straw was a couple weeks ago (my third trip on Southwest this summer). I had come into the check in baggage line in Reagan DC airport. I checked my bag in at the Kiosk and promptly got in line to give to the lady at desk. There was two lines to choose from, neither was marked clearly so I assumed (as others did) it didn’t matter which one we got into.”

That’s where things went south for Danielle. After more than an hour waiting in line, she said she started feeling anxious that she was going to miss her plane. Apparently, she wasn’t the only person dealing with customer service anxiety.

“There was a lady two people in front of me was being yelled at by TWO Southwest employees because she had used the kiosk and the line she stood in was for full service only," she wrote. "They made her go to other side and re get in line that was wrapped around three times. The Southwest man was non sympathetic to her pleas and the-other coworker was saying hateful remarks behind him. This lady left crying and I’m sure missed her flight. I now just realized and in a panic cause I self checked my bags at kiosk too and was so scared to face the attendant. I walk up to her and she nastily says, 'I really wish YOU people would wait to be called.' And then realized I had tagged my bag. She glared at me and says, 'Did you not just see what happened to the other lady?' And she continued to berate me and be very insulting while taking my bags. ... All she had to do was take my damn bag. She let me go through. But I was almost in tears.”

Danielle said that the flight was OK and that once she was aboard the flight, she had no complaints. Still, everything leading up to that may have hurt her love for Southwest. 

“I am completely disappointed, and hurt by this airline," she wrote. "Plane tickets aren’t cheap, it’s stressful to travel anyways, and to be treated like dog poop from the company you used to love sooo much. Is just too much. I am about to throw in my credit card and towel into this airline and find another.”

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