July 22, 2024

United Flights Resume After Five-Hour Computer Failure

Would-be passengers accustomed to using smartphones as tickets received handwritten boarding passes for flights that could not take off because connectivity problems had shut down departures, reservations and airport processing systems for more than five hours.

“While we will be experiencing some residual effect on our flight operations throughout the weekend, United is committed to restoring normal operations as soon as possible,” Alexandria Marren, an executive for systems operations control, said in a statement from United Airlines.

Mary Clark, a spokeswoman for the airline, said it canceled 16 flights on Friday and 15 on Saturday. Ms. Clark said she could not comment further about the underlying cause of the system crash.

Though the process of rescheduling flights was unlikely to take more than a day, passengers struggled to make new arrangements on Saturday morning.

“I’ve been waiting in line for seven hours,” Juergen Schmerder said on his cellphone from San Francisco International Airport.

He was checked in for his flight to Frankfurt after the system was restored late Friday night, he said, but the flight was ultimately canceled anyway. He could go home, he said, “If I only knew where my luggage is.”

Mr. Schmerder said there were five customer service agents working through a line of 200 to 300 people, down from about a thousand earlier in the morning.

“It’s moving at a speed of one customer every 5 or 10 minutes,” he said. His new flight to Germany is on Monday.

The network problems started around 8:15 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, according to United. Around 2 a.m. Saturday, the company sent a message over Twitter saying the systems were up again. United offered customers traveling through several major airports, including those in Newark, Chicago, Washington and Tokyo, on Friday or Saturday a “one-time date or time change, and the change fees will be waived.”

The company recommended that passengers print their boarding passes at home and arrive at the airport early. United officials encouraged passengers to check the company’s Web site, as they might have been automatically rebooked on a new flight, and noted updates on United’s Twitter feed.

But many customers found social media a better outlet for expressing frustration than finding information.

“NEVER FLY UNITED! they canceled our flight last night … did not comp us for the rooms,” Shelby Kerr said on Facebook on Saturday morning. After landing, she continued, the flight sat on the tarmac for so long that she missed her connection.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 18, 2011

An earlier version of this article misidentified the parent company of United. It is United Continental Holdings, not Continental Airlines,

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fb5c75e9bb610437e2fdce488b9dab84

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