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Orlando travelers say delays are the new normal after MCO expects 465 flights affected by FAA outage

Orlando International Airport traveler studies the arrival/departure board
Joe Mario Pedersen / WMFE
An Orlando International Airport traveler studies the arrival/departure board after 465 flights were delayed Wednesday following the FAA's announcement of a system wide outage.

Orlando International Airport was experiencing hundreds of delays Wednesday after the Federal Aviation Administration’s real-time safety alert system suffered an outage.

The FAA said an overnight outage occurred in its Notice to Air Missions system, which provides safety info to flight crews, and brought air traffic operations to a halt across the U.S.

MCO expected 465 flights to be delayed following the outage.

Travelers waiting for their flights at MCO
Joe Mario Pedersen / WMFE
Travelers waiting for their flights after being delayed several hours at Orlando International Airport Wednesday following the FAA's announcement of a system wide outage.

"As service slowly resumes, MCO advises travelers to contact their airlines directly for information about their specific flights," MCO said in a statement.

The delays come only two weeks after a massive winter storm cancelled thousands of flights across the country. Southwest Airlines experienced operation failures and canceled flights for several days after the storm.

The New Normal

The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating whether Southwest could've done more for its passengers. However, travelers at MCO Wednesday were experiencing delays between 1 and 3 hours. While most agreed the delays were frustrating, many have also come to expect delays in their flight plans as the current status quo of travel.

John Folger, of Fort Pierce, was waiting with his partner, Kylie Dachos, who was flying back to Boston on Delta Airlines. Folger had previously experienced a flight cancellation over the holidays when Southwest was experiencing problems.

Flight status displays at MCO
Joe Mario Pedersen / WMFE
Orlando International Airport expects 465 delayed flights Wednesday after the FAA announced it experienced a system outage.

He’s come to expect delays as the new traveling norm.

“Every flight I take is no connections because it seems like they’re just screwing them up left and right and I can’t even bet on a connection. It’s like playing a Casino game, you know? Am I gonna make it? Ah, maybe,” Folger said.

Ashley Lovell, of Louisville Kentucky, was delayed three hours in her trip home. She had arrived to Central Florida last week to run in Disney's Dopey Challenge, which consists of running in the theme park's 5K and 10K as well as its half and full marathons.

Lovell experienced problems on the way to Orlando flying with Southwest Airlines. She too has come to expect delays as part of the new traveling norm, and usually works them into her travel schedule.

“Yeah, I usually try not to work the day after I go because I actually came back from Vegas early December and got delayed an entire day and stayed overnight at the Vegas airport. Luckily I wasn’t scheduled to work the next day but I work at 7 a.m. tomorrow so hopefully I can get home,” Lovell said.

Travelers gather to check on their delayed flights at MCO.
Joe Mario Pedersen / WMFE
Travelers gather Wednesday, 1/11/23, morning to check on their delayed flights at MCO.

Tyrise Barker, of Philadelphia, arrived in Orlando Wednesday for a flag football national tournament in Davenport. He experienced an hour delay from his Delta connection in Atlanta, but he was stuck waiting for a friend at MCO who's arrival was delayed almost three hours.

Barker isn't convinced that routine delays are part of the new normal.

"This one kind of a surprised me," he said. "I stay away from (problematic airline companies) I flew Delta, but this affected everyone. It's not just one airline. It was just an unfortunate situation."

Barker was disappointed with the delays, but since the 16-team tournament doesn't start until Friday, he's content waiting for his friend.

"Stuff like this happens, but you get to the lounges and then you’re good to go," Barker said.

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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