United Airlines computer problems cause delays

Published On: Nov 15 2012 10:41:38 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 15 2012 04:37:33 PM CST
HOUSTON -

Thousands of United Airlines passengers around the globe were stranded at airports and on planes Thursday after another computer outage at the world's largest carrier.

This is at least the third major computer outage for the Chicago-based airline since June.

About 10 a.m., the airline posted on it's Twitter page that its system was back up and running.

Some fliers waited hours during the outage to depart. Some people who showed up at the airports to pick up travelers waited hours, too.

Renaissance Nahil planned to pick his grandmother up at George Bush Intercontinental Airport first thing Thursday morning. He spent several hours sitting in a chair at baggage claim.

Nahil said he didn't get many answers from ticket agents.

"I actually really haven't been hearing anything," he said.

People waiting for flights increasingly grew impatient.

"Does anyone have a Radio Shack computer or abacus to help United get their system fixed?," tweeted Lewis Franck, a motorsports writer who was flying from Newark, N.J. to Miami Thursday to cover the last race of the NASCAR season.

In a subsequent phone call with The Associated Press, Franck added: "Why is there a total system failure on a beautiful day? What happened to the backup and the backup to backup?"

Judd Shapiro of Nashua, N.H. said he got to the gate at Logan Airport in Boston and agents told him and other frustrated fliers that planes could land but not take off.

"JetBlue is taking off, American is taking off, but United is on the ground," he said. "I was having a flawless airport experience until I got to the gate."

United has been struggling with technology problems since March, when it switched to a passenger information computer system that was previously used by Continental. United and Continental merged in 2010. That system, called "Shares," has needed extensive reworking since March to make it easier for workers to use.

Michael Silverstein, who works in finance, was supposed to be on a 6:01 a.m. flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The computer outage had already caused him to miss one meeting and he was worried about missing another. So he walked off the plane and bought a $195 last-second ticket on a Southwest Airlines flight to Oakland, Calif.

"I'm frustrated because I'm missing a meeting that I thought I had plenty of time for," Silverstein said.

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