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United recovering from system-wide breakdown, cancellations

The Chicago-based United Airlines suffered a computer glitch last Friday evening that snarled the airline's traffic on the ground, the reservation system on its website, and its computer systems at a number of airports.  Shutdown was total for about five hours, from about 7:15 in the evening, Central Daylight Time, to the early minutes of Saturday morning, CDT.

Word of the shutdown spread quickly across the country (and world), when ticketed passengers for Friday evening flights took to Twitter and Facebook to vent their frustrations.  Many travelers stayed overnight at the airport where they were stranded.  There was confusion among travelers, some of whom thought the fallout was out of proportion to the actual seriousness of what happened.  As late as Saturday afternoon, no explanation to stranded travelers, from the airline, was forthcoming, according to the Associated Press.

Itinerary change fees were waived for anyone whose United Airlines flight was compromised by the glitch.  Schedules were most negatively affected at United hubs.  The airline's largest is O'Hare International (IATA: ORD; ICAO: KORD) in Chicago, where "it could take several days" for the backlog of stranded travelers to be resolved, according to an Associated Press report printed by the Chicago Tribune.

United Airlines also operates large hubs at Dulles International (IATA: IAD; ICAO: KIAD) near Washington, D.C.; Denver International (IATA: DEN; ICAO: KDEN); San Francisco International (IATA: SFO; ICAO: KSFO); and Los Angeles International (IATA: LAX; ICAO: KLAX).  It operates an overseas hub at Narita International (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA) east of Tokyo, Japan.

United is in the process of merging with Houston-based Continental Airlines.  The Houston Chronicle recently reported that the move will cost Houston 1500 jobs, though the Tribune recently reported that only 1300 jobs will be created in Chicago as a result of the merger.

related stories

Continental jobs will stay in Cleveland for five years (September 16, 2010)

Department of Justice approves United-Continental merger (August 27, 2010)

original stories

United Airlines Resumes Flights Today After Computer Outage (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

United blames outage on network connectivity issue (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

United recovering from canceled, delayed flights (Yahoo Finance)

United Flights Getting Back on Track After Major Computer Glitch (www.dnainfo.com)

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