Harry Reid Airport Highlighted in Connection with National FAA Malfunction

UPDATE: Most US flights were grounded for a short time until just before 6 a.m. PT on Wednesday because of an FAA malfunction. At Harry Reid International Airport, by 9 a.m. PT, 317 flights in total were delayed, FlightAware, a flight tracking service, said. Some 49 were canceled at Harry Reid. Of these, Southwest Airlines canceled 37 flights and delayed 169 flights. Thousands of flights from different airlines were either canceled or delayed nationally.

EARLIER: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was scrambling to correct a computer glitch early on Wednesday. The impacted system provides critical safety information to pilots. The malfunction may lead to the grounding of many US flights.

A flight board shows canceled flights
A flight board shows canceled flights. Passengers worried in Las Vegas and elsewhere on Wednesday after the FAA reported a system malfunction that could lead to many flight disruptions. (Image: WABC)

Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport was among the two airports highlighted in a CNN report on Wednesday morning about the computer system failure.

As of 4:45 a.m. PT on Wednesday, delays at Harry Reid totaled 151 flights, FlightAware, an online flight tracking service, reported. There were eight cancellations as of early morning.

There is no predicted time for the system to be operating properly.

Nationally, some airlines released statements that their flights could be delayed. The trade association for US carriers, Airlines for America, said the glitch was “causing significant operational delays,” CNN reported.

“Operations across the National Airspace System are affected,” the FAA said in its own statement.

The FAA is experiencing an outage that is impacting the update of NOTAMS. All flights are unable to be released at this time,” the FAA added.

System Explained

The impacted computer system is called Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM). It provides information on flight hazards and real-time restrictions to pilots, ABC News reported.

As of 7:15 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the FAA announced that “some functions are beginning to come back online,” CNN quoted the government agency.

The FAA was repopulating the system as of about 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Passengers were encouraged to check with their airlines to see if flights are delayed.

Many visitors to Las Vegas casinos fly into the city or head back home via Harry Reid Airport.

Prior Delays

Wednesday’s glitch follows weather-related delays and cancellations at Harry Reid on Tuesday.

Hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled at the airport because of heavy rain. Some 323 flights were delayed on Tuesday afternoon, FlightAware data showed. Some 29 flights were canceled.

Delays and cancellations this week follow massive delays between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Thousands of passengers at Harry Reid Airport were delayed or stranded waiting for flights during the holiday weeks. The two-week period is traditionally a popular time to travel, only making the disruptions more severe.

Many stranded airline passengers last month opted to rent a car and drive to their destinations. That led to a scarcity of rental cars in many locations. Prices also escalated.

The US airports that saw the most cancellations during the holiday travel period included Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Denver International Airport, Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Chicago Midway International Airport, CNN said.

Southwest Airlines was highlighted for its large number of delayed or canceled flights at the end of last month.

Southwest is the dominant carrier at Harry Reid Airport. More than 17.2 million passengers flew into and out of Las Vegas on a Southwest plane between October 2021 and last September, according to US Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.

Airlines initially blamed the holiday delays on winter storms impacting much of the nation between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It was later revealed that other causes also led to the disruptions.