United Airlines says computer issue caused nationwide shutdown

United Airlines halted all takeoffs nationwide Tuesday due to an equipment failure somewhere within its vast computer system. 

Whether it was a single computer keystroke, a confused scheduling program or a microchip melt down, at 10:38 a.m. the giant legacy airline called it quits.

The nationwide ground stop of its planes revolved around a malfunctioning computer system that degraded the ability of departing aircraft to communicate with United Airlines dispatchers.

The ability of dispatchers to communicate with aircraft at the gate, getting ready to depart, or on the tarmac, is critical to exchange information necessary to keep the system moving system-wide. At San Francisco airport alone, that caused one cancelation and 51 delays. There were 300 United delays nationwide.

Though the ground stop lasted less than a half-hour, it caused a lot of confusion. 

"There was a flash just came across the news that United had a shutdown because they had a glitch on all their flights and so they said they were grounding all flights but then it appears that they've lifted that now," said Chris Thompson, whose daughter was flying today. 

Australian tourist Peter Carnovale, his wife and children were concerned because they had upcoming scheduled flights while they visit America.

"We've got 5 more flights to go while we're in America," said Carnovale.

ALSO: Delta flight from Atlanta forced to return after passenger reportedly suffers diarrhea on plane

After the Southwest Airlines December multi-day meltdown that canceled almost 17,000 flights, overall airline performance has been challenging to airlines and passengers alike.  As demand for more flights grows, ever-increasing extreme weather, a lack of pilots and air traffic controllers, spells trouble for future passengers' time and pocketbooks. 

"When things like this happen, it's like what do you do," asked passenger Sharon Hill. "What can we do about this? Who do we call?  Who do we talk to?" 

In fact, two former FAA Administrators told Forbes that cancelations and delays could become the new normal in the industry, even though Uncle Sam gave airlines more than $62 billion to keep afloat during the pandemic. 

"My concerns would be, just the amount of cost that's involved with it and having enough planes and having everybody ready to go basically to take everyone everywhere, especially with the holidays," said passenger Aaron Bender. 

"Things happen but we got to get better, not going backwards, we got to get better and move forward," added Hill.

All things to consider as the ultra busy Thanksgiving travel week is ten weeks way.