New Computer Glitch Delays United Airlines Flights

PARIS (Reuters) -
FILE - In this July 8, 2015, file photo, United Airlines planes are parked at their gates as another plane, top, taxis past them at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
United Airlines planes are parked at their gates as another plane, top, taxis past them at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Thousands of passengers were delayed worldwide after a computer glitch temporarily halted departures at United Airlines, the latest in a series of outages to affect rival companies in the industry.

“Earlier tonight we experienced an issue with our weight reporting system, which caused system wide flight delays,” the airline said in a statement on social media late on Thursday in the United States.

“We have resolved the issue and are working to get customers to their destinations as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Passengers said they had been forced to wait on board planes or inside terminals as flights were delayed for several hours.

“On the plane for more than an hour, away from the gate and no communication. What’s happening?” one passenger wrote.

In Paris, passengers complained as check-in lines grew for a flight to New York, a Reuters reporter said on Friday morning.

The airline said the problem had been resolved as of 3 a.m. EDT on Friday.

It is the third computer glitch to hit United’s owner, United Continental Holdings, in recent months and the latest in a series of problems that have tested the reliance on technology of some of the world’s largest carriers.

On June 2, software needed to dispatch United’s flight plan briefly lost functionality.

In July, the same airline’s flights were disrupted after a computer problem blocked access to reservations records.

The following month, Delta Air Lines cancelled hundreds of flights and delayed many others after a power outage hit its computer systems.

And in September, a system-wide computer problem at British Airways caused significant delays.

After the two previous incidents, United Continental Holdings said in July it had invested in backup plans.

But multiple recent outages have prompted some experts and passenger groups to question whether the airline industry has invested enough in technological infrastructure, given new profits from baggage and cancellation fees.