“Nationwide system outage” grounds flights

Only when I arrive at my gate do I learn of the FAA‘s “nationwide system outage” grounding flights across the country. Gate attendants are reading from prepared FAA statements, explaining they don’t know what caused the delay, but that they’re working to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

My 8:50am flight has been pushed back to 9:50, but now — at 9:20 — there’s been no word about rescheduling my flight. Naturally, I have a connecting flight in Atlanta Hartsfield — the world’s busiest airport — and they are reporting widespread delays, as well.

The issue, apparently, revolves around scheduling flights for departure. (There’s a lot of confusion about this, here at FLL.)

Flights in the air are safe, and seemingly, airlines have the ability to clear flights one-by-one for departure: that explains the three flights that have zoomed off in the past 20 minutes. According to @ExecutiveTravel, “The FAA’s own site says that flight schedules are being entered in MANUALLY, thus the delays and cancellations” — but I’m unable to find this information.

We’re on the ground — literally — for this story, updating live from our Twitter account. We’ll also update this post as we learn more.

If you’re traveling today … we sympathize.

UPDATE: Apparently, the computer glitch is in Atlanta.

UPDATE 2: The gate attendant announced at 9:50 that the delay would end in “about 45 minutes.” Let’s see how accurate he is.

UPDATE 3: The gate agent was right on target. That flight is boarding now. My flight — the one originally scheduled for 8:50 — is now scheduled to depart at 11:30.

UPDATE 4: According to the WSJ, “The FAA system is a major, cutting-edge program full of redundancies that are designed to keep it from going down.”