Computers are a vital part of sending thousands of people miles into the air in steel boxes. So when they stop working, the airplanes generally stop flying. This is the reality Delta is having to deal with today, as a computer outage at its main hub in Atlanta has grounded flights worldwide.

The outage was first reported around 5.00AM ET this morning. Without the computer systems online, Delta personnel cannot check in passengers, and the flight information systems seem to be broken. Some reports claim that Delta staff in London were filling out boarding passes by hand.

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By late this morning, the total Delta outage appears to be lifting, with CNN reporting that limited departures had resumed. But with the massive backlog of passengers and only a semi-functional system, Delta is warning passengers to “expect delays and cancellations.” Probably best to check with Delta before heading to the airport for your flight, then.

There is no indication that the outage was caused by anything malicious. It’s far more likely to be a simple systems failure, with Delta blaming the incident on a loss of power at Atlanta. For such a critical system to be taken out by a simple power outage is a little embarrassing for Delta, but it’s also far less worrying than a hack.

Passengers affected by the outage can change their flight to any time later this week for free, thanks to a travel waiver Delta has published.

For more updates on the situation, Delta is updating a blog post with info and advice for travelling passengers.

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