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Columbia airport travelers experience delays, cancellations after nationwide FAA system outage

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a nationwide ground stop Wednesday morning due to a system outage, affecting travelers at Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Travel delays and cancellations are affecting people all across the nation, including right here in Columbia. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop on Wednesday morning affecting all domestic flights for a system outage. 

"Of course, not the news you want to wake up to," Kim Crafton with the Columbia Metropolitan Airport shared. "But unfortunately it did affect some of the flights here at CAE. We had a number of delays first thing in the morning."

CAE had five cancellations and four delays as of 2 p.m.

"You want every travel day to be a good day, and when you wake up and the weather's good and you know that the weather forecast is good, you’re thinking ‘Okay this is going to be a good travel day," Aiken resident Susan Debruhl explained. "And the last thing you expect is an FAA meltdown."

Debruhl is trying to get to Thailand. She has two days of travel ahead of her, now with an added eight-hour delay.

"I’ve been rebooked on a later flight, but it just requires waiting here for almost five hours and then another long layover in Charlotte," Debruhl shared.

The delays and cancellations are affecting travelers like Allan Urgent who is trying to get home to New Jersey.

"I’m not excited about it, but I think we just kinda have to grin and bear it," Urgent said of the extra time he'll spend in Columbia before his new flight leaves Wednesday night. "We’re gonna spend a little time in Columbia and return, so that’s how we’re gonna try to just make the best of it."

The other option, Urgent says, would have been to spend his day "crisscrossing back and forth" through different airports. Ultimately, he decided to wait for a late-night flight.

Other travelers like Deborah Glancy tell me the cancellation is allowing for more family time.

"I’m going back to my daughters for another day or two and then I’ll fly out on the weekend," Glancy said about booking her new flight home to Cleveland. "I’ve got my granddaughter, so when my granddaughter gets home from preschool she’s gonna be in seven heaven."

Some are using the extra time to catch up on work.

"I am actually doing work. I know my office will be thrilled," Julie Goforth laughed about her set-up in the airport café. "I’m able to work remotely so I brought all my accessories and I’m logged in working on my laptop with my monitor and just working away."

But not everyone can take the extra time from the delays. 

"It’s been stressful ‘cuz when you’re on a tight schedule, you have to make everything work for you," Masud Rahman told me.

Rahman is trying to get to Knoxville for work. After his flight to Charlotte was canceled, he decided to call an Uber.

"Seems like a big bummer in the beginning but I hope the rest of the day goes well for me," he hopes.

It's something Crafton is also hoping for all the travelers flying in and out of Columbia.

"It’s really hard to tell if this will be something that is going to be ongoing, but I know the FAA is working on it diligently," Crafton explained. "I think people understand that sometimes, these things just happen."

It's a principle that Goforth has accepted.

"I really can’t complain. I understand it. It’s not their fault, it’s nobody’s fault," she shared. "It’s not American Airlines fault and they were very accommodating to us, so I, you know, it’s like, okay maybe we’re just supposed to chillax a little bit longer."

If you are flying today, Crafton says it's a good idea to check your flight status.

"What we’re seeing is that restoration to their systems are still in progress right now. But it will take a little bit of time to catch up with the backlog of other flights that were supposed to leave this morning that haven’t left yet," Crafton explained. "Things are coming back online, things are coming back fully operable, but we are still seeing delayed flights that weren’t able to take off still in the queue waiting to go."

For the most up-to-date information, you can visit FlightAware.com or FlyCAE.com.

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