‘Very discouraging’: Passengers frustrated over grounded flights after FAA system breakdown

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — Flights across the country were grounded for several hours Wednesday morning after an outage to Federal Aviation Administration computer systems, Notice to Air Missions System or NOTAM, which is used to communicate with pilots affected airports nationwide, and caused nearly five thousand flights to be delayed or canceled.

At Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport, passengers arriving for their flights felt the effects of the delays.

Some who spoke with ABC 6 News said they were surprised to arrive and learn of the delays, saying they were never notified by their airline of delays. Some decided to wait out the delays, while others opted to re-book flights and head back home.

“We just found out two minutes ago. they kept saying they’ll give us updates, but no updates,” said Robin Harrison, a frustrated flyer at T.F. Green. “[It’s] very, very discouraging. We’re disappointed.”

For father and son, Bruno and Brian Silva, their flight home from Washington D.C. was supposed to leave at 6:00 in the morning but was moved to 2:00 in the afternoon.

Which caused their arrival to happen 8 hours behind schedule.

“I felt like I was being held hostage, I wanted to leave I was holding back tears,” Bryan Silva said.

“We slept on the floor inside Reagan. Got up at 6 in the morning to get our flight then it got delayed and delayed again then they switched us,” Bruno Silva said.

Wednesday, the White House announced there’s no evidence at this time to indicate any type of cyberattack. President Joe Biden directed the Department of Transportation to investigate the outage.

Locally, Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss tweeted Wednesday morning, calling the grounding of flights unacceptable.

Speaking to ABC 6 Wednesday morning, the congressman, who represents much of Bristol County, said the effects of the system’s breakdown will be felt beyond just people missing their flights.

“There’s the immediate effect on passengers in the airport [with the] planes being delayed, families not able to be connected, business not conducted,”Auchincloss said. “The U.S. domestic flight market is interwoven, and the spillover impacts of cancellations can be felt for days at a time.”

Those effects were already felt after the ground stop was lifted, with several flights out of T.F. Green canceled and others that did take off diverted to other airports.

“I’m going to be optimistic that it will work out and we’ll be on our way before too long,” Tim Murphy said.

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