By David Koenig
United Airlines said Tuesday it repaired a technology glitch that had forced it to halt departures nationwide, briefly crippling one of the nation's biggest carriers on a busy travel day.
Federal officials said United crews had been unable to contact airline dispatchers through normal means.
“United asked the FAA to pause the airline’s departures nationwide,” the Federal Aviation Administration said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.
The FAA said the issue was limited to United and its subsidiaries. It was less than an hour from the time that the FAA issued a bulletin about United's ground stop until the agency said that flights were resuming — shortly before 2 p.m. Eastern time.
“We have identified a fix for the technology issue and flights have resumed,” United said in a statement. “We’re working with impacted customers to help them reach their destinations as soon as possible.”
United said earlier that it was “experiencing a systemwide technology issue" and was holding up all departing planes. Flights that were already in the air when the technology problem occurred continued to their destinations, the airline said.
By midafternoon Tuesday on the East Coast, United had canceled only seven flights, well below its average of about 16 per day over the busy Labor Day weekend, according to figures from tracking service FlightAware.
However, more than 300 United flights were delayed — 12% of the carrier's schedule, far more than rivals American, Delta and Southwest — on a day that many holiday vacationers were expected to fly home.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has criticized airlines for flight problems and other issues over the past year, posted that the FAA was “receiving more information about the cause and scope of the issue, and DOT will make sure UA meets its obligations to affected passengers.”
The FAA is part of the Department of Transportation.
Shares of Chicago-based United Airlines Holdings Inc. fell on news of the ground stop and were down almost 3% in afternoon trading.