Technology problems forced Delta Air Lines to temporarily put all its departing domestic flights on hold Tuesday night, causing widespread disruptions for travelers across the nation.
The company’s Twitter account began responding to customers experiencing delays as early as 6:50 p.m. ET, saying it was having issues with its computer tracking systems. Around 8:30 p.m., the airline issued a brief statement, acknowledging the problem and offering an apology.
Just before 9:20 p.m., Delta announced that all of its information technology systems had been restored and “all ground stops have been lifted.” The company referred to the problem as “a technology issue” that “briefly affected some of our systems this evening.”
The company said the ground stop lasted about an hour and that delays Wednesday morning were expected to be minimal.
But during the problems Tuesday night, people railed on Twitter against the company — which serves more than 180 million customers each year — demanding to know why they could not book flights, print tickets or board their planes.
In Las Vegas, restless fliers said they were waiting in long lines to book alternative flights and dealing with delays that were dragging on throughout Tuesday night.
In Detroit, one customer claimed that a plane failure combined with the widespread problems led to her being stuck at the airport for nine hours.
And in Atlanta, Delta’s headquarters and largest hub, a line of idle planes stretched across the runway, carrying passengers who were unable to disembark.
“How about a pickup truck and a ladder?” one customer wrote on Facebook. “Get us off this plane.”
The temporary ground stop affected all so-called “mainline” Delta domestic flights, but not those operated for Delta by smaller contract airlines. It also did not affect flights that had taken off.
While Delta has not faced a recent public relations fiasco that escalated to level of some recently suffered by United Airlines, the company has still experienced its share of turbulence.
In March, Georgia lawmakers stripped out a tax break proposal for Delta in retaliation for its decision to end a promotional discount for members of the National Rifle Association. (Georgia’s governor restored the tax break in July.) And in June, the company cut its profit forecast in response to a steep rise in fuel prices, prompting its stock to drop 1 percent.