News

Thousands Of United Airlines Passengers Stranded At NY-Area Airports, Nationwide Due To Computer Glitch

United Airlines Counter (file/credit: Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

United Airlines Counter (file/credit: Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - United Airlines passengers at New York-area airports and around the globe were stranded at airports and on planes Thursday due to another computer outage at the world’s largest carrier.

The outage lasted for about two hours in the morning, affecting half of all flights on United’s main network. It was at least the third major computer outage for the Chicago-based airline since June.

“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 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?”

At around 11:15 a.m., United Continental Holdings Inc. spokesman Charles Hobart said the airline was back up and running. “Getting back to normal. Only affected some mainline flights (not all and not Express).”

Passengers are being told by pilots and airport agents that computers are down and they don’t know when the system will come back. Some fliers have been waiting nearly 2 hours to depart.

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.

Please share your thoughts below.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)