Weather Updates

American Airlines reservation system goes down, grounds flights

Updated: April 16, 2013 5:20PM

American Airlines is having computer problems Tuesday that are causing the airline to ground flights until 4 p.m. Some passengers are stuck on planes while others can’t make reservations.

“We are now in a system-wide ground delay until 4:00 pm CT as we work to resolve this issue. We apologize for any inconvenience,” the airline sent out on its Twitter account about 1:40 p.m.

“Any American plane sitting on the ground anywhere in the U.S.” won’t be taking off, said FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford.

Flight-tracking service FlightAware estimated that about 900 flights would be delayed if American resumed flying at 5 p.m. (2100 GMT), and the cascading effect would cause another 800 delays Tuesday evening because planes and crews wouldn’t be where they were needed.

Customers couldn’t make reservations or rebook if their flight was cancelled. Passengers described long airport lines and frustration at the lack of information from airline employees.

American Airlines spokesman Kent Powell said Monday that the airline is trying to resolve the issues as quickly as it can.

On its website, the airline announced that it was unable to modify Tuesday’s reservations, but that it would offer refunds or update travel at no charge when it is able.

As of midday, American had canceled at least 75 departures from O’Hare.

American’s problems on Tuesday were reminiscent of what United Airlines passengers endured on several days last year. United experienced computer glitches after combining its reservations system with that of Continental after the two airlines merged. On one day in August, 580 United flights were delayed and its website was shut down for two hours. Another outage in November delayed 636 flights.

As with the United meltdowns last year, American Airlines passengers used social media to flood the airline with complaints.

“We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as we can, and we apologize to our customers for this inconvenience,” said Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for the airline.

Huguely said all flights would be held on the ground until Tuesday afternoon, when she promised the airline would provide an update.

The airline was offering free reservations changes and refunds for stranded passengers. But Huguely said American couldn’t process those changes until the reservations system was fixed.

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