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United Airlines' Computer Woes Return with Website Not Working

Download: Printable PDF Date: 09 Sep 2015 06:23 category:
United Airlines' Computer Woes Return with Website Not Working - Airlines publisher
Tatjana Obrazcova
Source: Bloomberg

United Airlines' website stopped working for 2 1/2 hours Tuesday, prompting the carrier to guide passengers to mobile apps and airport kiosks to check in for flights.

The problem, the most recent in a string of computer woes to beset the airline, didn't cause any flight delays or cancellations, said spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm. United notified customers of the outage via its Twitter page and on its United.com website.

"It was a back-end system related to booking," Dohm said in an interview. She didn't have further details. Customers were unable to book new flights on the website or the airline's own mobile app.

United unveiled the beta version of its new website May 12, offering updated search, reservation and ticket purchasing features. The new site also showed more options for passengers to use in choosing flights, such as Wi-Fi availability and in-seat power, pricing during a 15-day flight window and details on available upgrades, the airline said at the time.

United.com accommodates some 2,000 users per minute and books about US$1 million in revenue per hour, Dohm said. The carrier has suffered a number of computer or related problems since the 2010 merger of United and Continental Airlines.

Computer Fault

In July, a computer fault halted all U.S. departures at United Continental Holdings Inc., the world's second-biggest airline, for about two hours. The carrier suffered a similar incident on June 2 when departures were stopped because of insufficient flight dispatch information.

In February 2014, the system that handles check-ins and other passenger services failed, disrupting travel for about three hours at United hubs including San Francisco, Washington and Chicago. The previous month, a malfunction stranded pilots and caused about 1,500 cancellations.

United added extra precautions in 2012 after a computer breakdown caused one of its planes to take off about 20,000 pounds (9,100 kilograms) heavier than pilots believed, creating difficulties in getting the jetliner airborne.

Three other computer glitches that year at United also ensnared thousands of travelers with tardy flights.

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