CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines said Saturday that a computer glitch that grounded flights nationwide and left some passengers stranded overnight had been fixed.
The airline blamed the problem on "a network connectivity issue" and said it was in the process of resuming normal operations. But the airline also indicated passengers may experience some delays for the rest of the weekend.
"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, senior vice president of system operations control for United, said in a written statement. "We encourage customers to print their boarding pass prior to arrival at the airport and give themselves extra time.
The airline apologized to its customers and said it was rebooking passengers as needed.
The outage started around 7:15 p.m. CDT Friday and lasted for about five hours. As a result, long lines of passengers formed at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago. Some passengers ended up spending the night at airports or found hotel rooms in the cities where they were stranded.
United said its flight departures, airport processing and reservation system, including its website, were affected by the outage.
United didn't say how many passengers or flights were affected. But Los Angeles International Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said the outage affected about 2,500 people at that airport alone.
Nina and Mark Whitford of Brockville, Ontario, ended up in Chicago while on a layover on their flight home from Minneapolis. They said they were headed to a hotel to spend the night and were dismayed when an airline worker told them they would have to mail in their hotel receipt to get reimbursed.
"We've been waiting here for about two hours for our baggage, and nothing's come," said Nina Whitford, 35.
She said several people were still at the airport around 1 a.m. CDT Saturday, and others on their flight had rented cars to complete their trip to Canada.
"Some people were sleeping and some people were getting very angry because no one was giving us any answers," she said.
Ron Schaffer, an Apple Inc. engineer, was trying to connect with a flight to Grand Junction, Colo., after flying into Denver from Orlando, Fla.
"A hundred yards of kiosks, and every one of them closed," he said, adding there were no flights listed on monitors. "Workers were trying to answer questions. They have no ability to do anything manually. They can't check baggage. You can't get baggage. You are really stuck."
At the San Francisco International Airport, hundreds of passengers stood shoulder-to-shoulder.
Still, some people took the delays in stride.
Steve Cole, 51, of Bloxwich, England, was at the San Francisco airport waiting for a flight to Las Vegas.
"These are the things you have to expect when you're on holiday." Cole said. "I'm missing a night of gambling," he added with a grin.
Associated Press writers John S. Marshall in San Francisco and Denise Petski in Los Angeles and photographers Rick Bower in Denver and Charles Rex Arbogast in Chicago contributed to this report.