SkyWest Airlines crippled by computer woes, forced to cancel 700 flights

Oct 22, 2021

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Massive internal computer issues reportedly forced regional carrier SkyWest Airlines to ground nearly 700 flights and delay hundreds of others Thursday as the airline scrambled to fix the problem.

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SkyWest attributed the schedule meltdown to a “server issue,” according to Reuters, and said it took about five hours to resolve and allow flights to resume. But the cascading impact of the flight cancellations continued into Friday as SkyWest worked to get its crews and planes back in position.

The airline had canceled about 330 flights — about 15% of its daily schedule — as of 10:30 a.m. ET Friday while another 100 were running behind schedule, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

A spokesperson for SkyWest said the carrier was working “to return to normal operations as quickly as possible.”

Related: What to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

(Route map courtesy of Skywest)
SkyWest’s route map. (Image courtesy of SkyWest)

SkyWest is the largest regional airline in the U.S. Headquartered in Utah, it’s a partner airline providing service under the regional brands of four of the nation’s five largest “mainline” carriers: American, Delta, Alaska and United. A look at SkyWest’s route map gives you an idea of how wide a reach the airline has and how its outage affected U.S. air travel across the networks of several major airlines.

SkyWest, which has a base at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), told local TV station KARE11 that an “internal technical issue” was to blame.

The SkyWest chaos rippled across major airline hubs on Thursday, affecting passengers at airports large and small. Among them were Minneapolis-St. Paul — where SkyWest flies Delta Connection flights from Delta’s hub — and Denver, a hub for United.

The disruptions also hit smaller markets, where regional carriers like SkyWest provide much of the scheduled service. In Fresno, California, for example, The Fresno Bee reported that SkyWest canceled seven of the 17 flights it operates at that airport.

Communications — or a perceived lack of them — compounded the problem for many travelers hit with SkyWest’s delays and cancellations. Typically, major airlines communicate information for operations run by their regional affiliates. But the widespread cascading issues appeared to leave SkyWest’s major partners scrambling to update passengers on the problem.

“I understand bad things happen – weather, mechanics and so forth. But they should be able to give you some information to give you comfort and security,” passenger Philip Hogan told ABC 30 of Fresno after he was stranded there following a SkyWest cancellation.

On the flip side, some travelers took to Twitter to applaud Alaska Airlines for trying to get the message out to its customers.

Still, passengers flying SkyWest on Friday should keep tabs on the status of their flights as the carrier works to get its operation back to normal.

For those who do encounter issues with delayed or canceled flights, there are some tips that can help solve the problem.

TPG has a full guide to troubleshooting irregular operations, and keep in mind that some credit cards come with trip cancellation and interruption insurance that can help offset unexpected expenses that stem from a delay or cancellation.

Featured photo by Daniel Slim/Getty Images.

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