US air travel is slowly getting back to normal after a day of chaos

CNN  — 

Air travel appears to be off to a smoother start a day after a Federal Aviation Administration system outage created chaos with nearly 11,000 delayed flights in the United States and more than 1,300 cancellations.

By 9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, about 800 flights in the US were delayed, with about 90 cancellations, according to data from flight tracking site FlightAware.

On Wednesday, more than 10,800 flights were delayed, according to FlightAware, with 1,353 cancellations.

United, Delta and Southwest issued travel waivers in response to the outage. American Airlines said its customers could rebook their flights Wednesday and Thursday without additional fees.

A corrupt file appears to have interfered with the central database for all NOTAMs (Notice to Air Missions) nationwide, the FAA said, and ultimately led to a 90-minute ground stoppage on Wednesday morning.

Those notices advise pilots of issues along their route and at their destination.

“Our preliminary work has traced the outage to a damaged database file. At this time, there is no evidence of a cyberattack,” the FAA said Wednesday evening.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has ordered an after-action review.

Buttigieg, who has been hard on airlines over their staffing and technology issues in the last year, said the Transportation Department and Federal Aviation Administration would “own” responsibility for their failures.

“No, these kinds of disruptions should not happen and my primary interest now that we’ve gotten through the immediate disruptions of the morning is understanding exactly how this was possible and exactly what steps are needed to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Buttigieg said Wednesday on CNN.

Calls came swiftly Wednesday for aviation system overhauls.

“America’s transportation network desperately needs significant upgrades,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

“Americans deserve an end-to-end travel experience that is seamless and secure.

And our nation’s economy depends on a best-in-class air travel system,” Freeman said in a statement.

Investment in the agency is set to be addressed this year by Congress when the five-year FAA Reauthorization Act signed in 2018 expires.

Top image: A United Airlines plane departs Newark Liberty International Airport on January 11, 2023. (Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images)