United Outage Strands Passengers at O'Hare

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Passengers check their flight information at the United Airlines counter at O'Hare International airport in Chicago, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011.

    Throngs of passengers stranded in the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare International Airport on Friday night were told to go home or get a hotel after a "nationwide computer malfunction" took out the airline's reservations systems.

    The systems went down shortly after 7 p.m., a United Airlines spokeswoman said.  After roughly three hours, passengers were told that there would be no more flights.  Local travelers were told to go home and some travelers from out of town were given discount vouchers to nearby hotels.

    Passengers said they were frustrated they were kept in line waiting for about two hours before any announcements came from the airline.

    "I'm a little cheesed, and I've been spending the entire time looking up who the new CEO of United Airlines is so I can compose a vitriol-filled note to him," said Kasey Madden, who was trying to fly to Minneapolis.

    "I was only going home for 38 hours, so it's kind of cutting into that," said Sean Doyle, who was trying to board a 10:15 p.m. flight from Chicago to Denver.

    Official word on the outage first came from the Federal Aviation Administration and then an airline spokeswoman. 

    "UA experiencing computer outage interrupting departures, airport processing and reservations... working to resolve the issue," the airline said on Twitter at about 9:30 p.m..

    At Los Angeles International Airport, United Airlines operations said there was a "nationwide computer malfunction." Employees were checking in passengers manually, said LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles.

    Castles said there were no reports of grounded flights or delays in Los Angeles.

    An NBC News producer at LAX reported that passengers were unable to check in unless they'd printed out their boarding pass prior to traveling to the airport.

    "Our technology team is working to resolve the issue as soon as possible," said United spokesman Charles Hobart.

    Via Twitter, United passenger @rionSD shared this photo of his handwritten boarding pass.

     

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