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United plagued by computer outages

– A computer outage at United Airlines delayed thousands of travelers on Thursday and embarrassed the airline at the time when it’s trying to recover from glitches earlier this year.

The two-hour outage held up morning flights around the globe. From Los Angeles to London, Boston to San Francisco, frustrated fliers tweeted snarky remarks about the glitch. It was United’s third major computer mishap this year.

“Does anyone have a Radio Shack computer or abacus to help United get their system fixed?” tweeted Lewis Franck, a motorsports writer flying from Newark, N.J., to Miami on Thursday to cover the last race of the NASCAR season.

In a subsequent phone call with The Associated Press, Franck added: “Why is there a total system failure on a beautiful day? What happened to the backup and the backup to backup?”

United said the technology problem was fixed by 10:30 a.m. EST. But early-morning delays can easily ripple throughout an airline’s network for the rest of the day even after the underlying cause is fixed. That’s because after a plane is late for one flight, it can be difficult to make up for lost time.

United was not immediately able to say how many flights were delayed. Spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said few if any flights were canceled.

The problem was that dispatchers couldn’t send flight information to about half of the United’s mainline flights. Johnson confirmed that the problem affected planes that came from United, which merged with Continental in 2010. Planes that came from Continental, and regional flights on United Express, were unaffected.

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