American Airlines fixes computers, delays go on

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DALLAS -- American Airlines grounded all flights across the United States for several hours Tuesday after a key computer system crashed, causing thousands of passengers to be stranded at airports and on planes.

Flights in the air did continue to their destinations, but planes on the ground could not take off.

The airline blamed its computerized reservation system, which is used for much more than booking flights. Airlines use such systems to track passengers and bags and monitor who has boarded a plane. The system also updates flight schedules, gate assignments, and files flight plans.

The failure caused cascading delays and cancellations nationwide. By midafternoon, American and its American Eagle offshoot canceled more than 700 flights, and another 765 were delayed, according to tracking service FlightAware.

The systems outage, which began in midmorning, was fixed by 4:30 p.m., airline spokeswoman Stacey Frantz said. But even as some flights took off, the airline expected delays and cancellations to continue for the rest of the day.

At airports, customers whose flights were canceled couldn't rebook on a later flight. Passengers already at the airport were stuck in long lines or killed time in gate areas. They described frustration at the lack of information from airline employees.

"Tensions are high. A lot of people are getting mad. I've seen several yelling at the American agents," said Julie Burch, a business-meeting speaker stuck at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Terry Anzur, a TV news consultant from Los Angeles who was also stranded in Dallas, said American Airlines gate employees were doing everything the old-fashioned, manual way because their computers were useless. -- AP

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