Network glitch disrupts Sun Country early-morning flights, causing scheduling bumps all day

A computer network outage forced Sun Country Airlines to cancel all of its flights before 8 a.m. Monday morning, and the disruption led to delays for most of its passengers the rest of the day.

The outage occurred at a data-system provider used by Minneapolis-based Sun Country and other airlines. It led Sun Country to resort to manual processes to clear flights for a few hours.

By 10:30 a.m., Sun Country had been able to get all but one of its flights scheduled after 8 a.m. into the air. That flight, headed to Fort Myers, Fla., in the afternoon was canceled for reasons unrelated to the network disruption, Sun Country said.

Passengers who were affected by the canceled flights were issued full refunds and fees for changing flights were waived, the airline said.

Coming so early, the cancellations had knock-on effects to Sun Country’s operations throughout the day as the airline tried to get back on schedule and re-book disrupted passengers.

Many flights were delayed. Separate flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Phoenix and St. Louis, for instance, took off and landed just over an hour late Monday afternoon.

A late afternoon flight to Seattle took off a half-hour late but was scheduled to make up time en route, according to FlightAware, a flight information service.

“We anticipate a few delays as we continue to move into the evening, but hope to maintain the operation and get folks onboard and to their destinations as close to schedule as possible,” a Sun Country spokeswoman said late Monday afternoon.

Some Sun Country customers complained on Twitter about difficulties getting details from the airline’s call center about the status of flights.

The problem emerged amid a surge of flight cancellations over Christmas weekend as airlines contended with staffing shortages as people became ill with the fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.

Shares in Sun Country fell 2.6% Monday, tumbling with other airline stocks on a day when the broad market indexes rose 1% or more. Shares in Delta Air Lines, the dominant carrier at MSP and which canceled about 200 flights due to weather and virus effects, fell nearly 1%.