United Airlines Halts Flights

CHICAGO (AP) - A computer malfunction at United Airlines halted
all departures systemwide for two hours Wednesday, forcing the
delay or cancellation of nearly 300 flights, the carrier said.
Spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said the airline did not know the
cause of the problem, which affected the systems United uses to
dispatch flights for departure.
The outage lasted from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. CDT, when departures
were able to resume after the computer functions returned.
United said about 268 domestic and international flights were
delayed for an average 1½ hours and 24 domestic flights were
canceled. No international flights were canceled, Urbanski said.
The airline, a unit of Chicago-based UAL Corp., has about 3,600
flights daily.
"We are very sorry for the inconvenience today's computer
outage caused our customers," Urbanski said Wednesday afternoon.
"We continue to work hard to resume operations by tomorrow morning
and kindly ask for our customers' patience."
FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer in Seattle confirmed that all
United flights across its system had been grounded because of the
computer problem.
At O'Hare International Airport, United's inbound and outbound
flights were delayed between one and two hours, said spokeswoman
Wendy Abrams.
No other airlines were affected.
Jocelyn Ashberg, from Capetown, South Africa, said she flew from
Washington D.C. to Chicago Wednesday, only to sit on the tarmac at
O'Hare for 1½ hours after the plane landed.
"We rushed to get the plane in Washington because we were late
coming in because we were delayed in Johannesburg," Ashberg said.
"Then when we got to Chicago we just had to sit and sit and sit
because nobody could tell us how long it was going to be ... we
just had to sit like sardines in a can."
Michael McCarron, director of community affairs for the San
Francisco International Airport, said about a dozen United flights
were affected at the airport Wednesday morning before service
"Everything is back to normal right now," he said.
United is the airport's largest carrier.
The airline's hubs are O'Hare, Washington Dulles International
and airports in Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
AP Business Writer Dave Carpenter and AP videographer Mark
Carlson contributed to this report.
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