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United's Computer Outage Causes Flight Disruptions

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United Airlines' computer network outage started around 5 p.m. Friday and lasted 5 hours. At Sacramento International Airport, two incoming flights near midnight were canceled. Hundreds of passengers at San Francisco International (SFO) were stranded, as were about 2,000 passengers at Los Angeles International (LAX). Passengers in Denver, Chicago and Washington D.C., were also affected.

The United Airlines counter at Sacramento International Airport had long lines Saturday morning, but most customers said they had no trouble checking in. United Airlines is advising passengers that delays this weekend are still a possibility. United recommended that passengers print their boarding passes ahead of time and arrive at the airport early for their flights.

United Airlines said its check-in system is back up at Chicago Ohare International (ORD) and that it is still investigating what caused the computer outage at its largest hub on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

„United's check-in systems have been addressed and the number of flights arriving and departing O'Hare is improving,“ said spokeswoman Jean Medina late this morning. „While we continue to expect some delays, we expect to resume scheduled operations later today. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience this morning and recommend they continue to use united.com to check flight status and check-in.“

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said that United had ordered a ground stop of its planes on its own that ended at 7:55 a.m. The problem began about 5:15 a.m., she said. United had told the FAA that it was a computer issue that made the airline unable to check in people for flights and resulted in an inability to get final flight information to the cockpit, Cory said. „I only remember in my 10 years one other time“ that computer glitches have caused this much trouble with flights, Cory said.

About 8:45 a.m Saturday, automated self-service check-in kiosks began issuing boarding passes. About 75 percent of check-in computers were back in in service about 10:30 a.m. and the rest were up by 11 a.m., said United Vice President for Airport Operations Cindy Szadokierski in a press conference at the airport.

By a little after 11 a.m., United's schedule at O'Hare was returning to normal, with very few scheduled departures delayed substantially or canceled. About 100 flights were canceled between 3 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. because of the glitch, a United spokeswoman said.


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