November 16, 2012 in Business

United flights delayed by glitch

Joshua Freed And Samantha Bomkamp Associated Press
 

NEW YORK – A computer outage at United Airlines delayed thousands of travelers on Thursday and embarrassed the airline at a time when it’s trying to win back customers after glitches earlier this year.

The two-hour outage held up a total of 636 of the 5,679 United flights scheduled for Thursday, the airline said. That included 257 planes delayed directly by the outage, with the rest caused by planes that were late to arrive for subsequent flights, the airline said.

United said the technology problem occurred around 8:30 a.m. Eastern time and was fixed by 10:30 a.m. But morning delays can ripple throughout an airline’s network for the rest of the day even after the underlying cause is fixed.

The glitch involved communication between dispatchers at the company’s operations center in Chicago and planes at airports around the world, United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said. Dispatchers communicate information such as weight and fuel loads to pilots, who need it to operate the flight. Johnson said the airline has identified the specific problem, and said it won’t happen again.

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 improvements since March.

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