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United Says Delays Will Continue Through Weekend

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CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — It could take several days for thousands of stranded travelers to get home after a United Airlines computer system shut down for several hours, leading to widespread cancelations Friday night.

The unspecified “network connectivity” problem was fixed and flights resumed early Saturday, but the airline said delays could persist throughout the weekend. Also, with flights nearly full, there was little room for passengers whose flights had been cancelled to rebook.

“There’s literally nowhere to put them,” airline analyst Robert Mann said. “There are already very few empty seats on the flights that operate.”

United’s planes were an average of 86.8 percent full in May.

To try to alleviate the congestion, the airline allowed passengers with tickets on Saturday flights to cancel or delay their travel to a later date without charge. Luckily, Saturday is one of the lighter travel days.

The outage started about 7:15 p.m. CDT Friday and lasted for about five hours. Long lines of passengers formed at airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and Chicago. Some passengers ended up spending the night at airports or found hotel rooms in the cities where they were stranded.

United said its flight departures, airport processing and reservation system, including its website, were affected by the outage.

United didn’t say how many passengers or flights were affected. But Los Angeles International Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said the outage affected about 2,500 people, with 32 flights delayed and two cancellations, KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports.

Some Continental Airlines passengers also were affected by the outage.

Visit the United Airlines Web site to check your flight status.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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