ST. LOUIS – For hours Wednesday morning, airport runways across the U.S. were at a standstill after the Notice To Air Missions (NOTAM) System went down. Inside America’s airports, chaos for travelers.

Dani Murphy’s Southwest Airlines flight from St. Louis to Denver was canceled due to the outage. Thankfully, she was able to rebook with Frontier.

“We were a little frustrated and just a little nervous about whether or not we’d actually be getting out, but we made it happen,” she said.

NOTAM is a non-emergency system that alerts pilots to things like weather issues or closed runways. The backup system is a direct phone call to pilots, impossible to do with thousands of flights each day.

“It’s government technology, so it’s obviously behind the private sector, but this particular system is feeding data points from almost every single airport in the country,” aviation analyst Kyle Bailey said. “Not just large airports, but small airports, too.”

“From the time you book to the time you travel, something is going to change. It just is. It’s the nature of travel,” Christina Royer, CEO of Sky High Travel in St. Louis, said.

“My advice, of course, is always to book with a travel professional, book with a reputable company, and make sure you’re protected with some form of insurance.”

Coverage varies from policy to policy, but Royer says on the heels of Southwest’s holiday meltdown that resulted in thousands of canceled flights, and now Wednesday’s disruptions, getting covered has never made more sense.

“For all those expenses that just kind of get thrown at you, now you’re covered. You’re worry free and if you booked with an advisor, you’re not the person standing there on hold. You’re not the person standing in line, your advisor is doing it for you,” Royer said.

And if Spring Break travel is on your radar, she recommends you act fast.

“I would call now, because the availability is smaller. The price has gone up. The more you wait, it’s going to get worse,” Royer said.

The White House has said there’s no evidence a cyberattack caused the NOTAM System to go down, but the Department of Transportation is investigating.

Additional information: How to handle canceled, delayed flights


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