Southwest Airlines normalizing operations after computer glitch grounds 250 flights

All flights out of San Diego operating

SAN DIEGO - Southwest Airlines began to normalize its operations following a computer glitch that grounded 250 flights Friday night, and all flights out of San Diego were operating Saturday, a spokeswoman said.

In Southern California, one morning flight from Ontario to Sacramento and another to Phoenix were canceled "due to not having aircraft positioned, or no available crews," spokeswoman Michelle Agnew told City News Service.

The Southwest spokeswoman said 14 flights were canceled Saturday, as dispatchers moved crews and planes into position to handle the airline's 3,400 scheduled flights in North America.

None of Saturday's canceled flights were at Los Angeles, Burbank, Orange County or San Diego, she said.

At about 8 p.m. Pacific time Friday, an internal computer system at Southwest Airlines' operations center in Texas malfunctioned, leaving company dispatchers unable to coordinate or communicate with their aircraft crews, she said.

That led to departing planes being stuck at gates, and arriving, loaded airplanes being stuck on tarmacs waiting for an open spot. Although some passengers said they were stuck on the tarmac for more than an hour, Southwest met its "Passengers Bill of Rights" obligations to get everyone off within three hours of touchdown, a spokeswoman at LAX said.

Since Southwest does not operate overnight flights, most Southwest operations on the East Coast were not affected by the computer outage, Agnew said.

Flights in the Pacific and Mountain time zones began getting cancelled after the Friday night outage, as company dispatchers switched to a manual system that is more-cumbersome than computers, Agnew said.

"Our normal tools to speak to aircraft, to clear them for departure and direct them on the fields, was disrupted," she said. "This caused delays as we used a backup manual system that is significantly more cumbersome."

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