All United Airlines flights are currently grounded, and the Federal Aviation Administration is blaming "automation issues" for the travel nightmare.
United told its employees it was experiencing a "network connectivity issue" but did not elaborate. According to Denver International Airport, it appears the check-in system has failed. Airport officials and frustrated passengers have already started tweeting about the impending airport bottleneck.
Passengers flying United this morning should allow extra time and check flight status as airline works to restore computer issues
— Denver Int'l Airport (@DENAirport) July 8, 2015
United's DFW check in kiosks are all down this morning. WTF? Chaos.
— Matt Carter (@RagtagMatt) July 8, 2015
— Jeralyn Novak (@AgCommunicator) July 8, 2015
— Matt Rascon (@mattnbcsd) July 8, 2015
United hasn't officially responded, and its customer service-oriented Twitter account has responded to just one of the many complaints and questions flooding in with a non-answer:
@doublerpub We're working to resolve the issue with the passenger service system and apologize for the inconvenience. ^JJ
— United (@united) July 8, 2015
The FAA advisory didn't get more specific than "user request automation issues" for the widespread grounding. This is the second time this summer United has experienced a technical issue resulting in grounded flights. On June 2, a similar incident occurred.
No word yet on what caused the check-in system failure, or if "user requested automation issues" means there's more at play than just a screwy check-in system. I've asked United what the cause of this issue is, and whether the company has ruled out a cyberattack. I'll update when I learn more.
Update 1: Some passengers are reporting that systems are back online.
Breaking (really!) Two of United's systems are now back up and they're supposedly about to start boarding us. #SDCC, here I come?
— Justin Aclin (@justinaclin) July 8, 2015
Update 2: "We experienced a network connectivity issue this morning. We are working to resolve this and apologise to our customers for any inconvenience," a United spokesperson told Gizmodo, not at all clearing anything up.
Update 3: The FAA lifted the grounding ban at 10am.
Update 4: A United spokesperson confirmed that flights are restored. The company is issuing waivers to customers to change their flight plans.