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United Airlines suffers computer problems, delays widespread

    Travelers waited in line Friday at the United Airlines ticketing counters at Honolulu Airport as they waited for a computer glitch to be resolved.

United Airlines passengers faced delays and long lines after some of its major computer systems and its website failed today.

The glitch was another in a long string of technology problems that began when it merged computer systems with Continental’s in March.

United acknowledged at least 200 delayed flights. Its passenger reservation system and website stopped working for about two-and-a-half hours on this afternoon, although the precise cause wasn’t known. 

The outage didn’t affect planes in flight.

Long lines were reported at airports across the nation, including Honolulu International Airport late this morning. But by early afternoon the backlog had cleared.


State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter said Honolulu Airport did not experience any major delays in flights as a result of the glitches.

However, two departing flights and four arriving flights were marginally affected.

 A departing flight to Japan was delayed 40 minutes this morning and one to Chicago delayed one hour tonight.

Two arriving flights from Los Angeles were delayed — one for 40 minutes this morning and the other for two hours in the afternoon. Tonight, single flights from Guam and San Francisco were each delayed 1 hours and 15 minutes.


But passengers in several United hubs reported very long lines at ticket counters. During the outage it stopped sending planes to its hubs in Newark, N.J., and San Francisco.

Alex Belo was waiting at Newark to get on a flight to Mexico City. He considered himself lucky to be behind only 100 or so people waiting to check a bag because there were another 300 to 400 behind him.

The line is not moving, or very slowly moving. And they’re giving priority only to first class, he said.

United said it will not charge the usual change fees for passengers on affected flights who want to cancel or rebook their tickets. It apologized for the disruption.

Simon Duvall spent two hours sitting on his flight waiting for the computer problems to be resolved. People were calm but not happy, he said.

We’re on a plane, on the tarmac in Las Vegas in the middle of August. It’s warm. It’s uncomfortable. It’s cramped, he said. 

United Continental Holdings Inc. has been struggling with computer issues off and on since March, when it switched to using Continental’s system for tracking passenger information. The two airlines merged in 2010.

Airlines rely on software to know who is filling the seats on its planes, and how many empty seats are available. Those computer systems make it possible to print boarding passes, too. 

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