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United Technical Glitches Bedevil Flyers

Lisa Scherzer
Lisa Scherzer
The Exchange

Trying to fly today? If it's with United, you'd better double-check your flight's status.

The unit of United Continental Holdings (UAL) was experiencing major technical issues Tuesday afternoon, with its computer systems down nationwide, frustrating passengers in major airports all over North America, including at New York's JFK, at Newark Liberty International Airport and at Chicago's O'Hare.

Yahoo! Finance Editor in Chief Aaron Task was at JFK, and he said ticketing, baggage and online check-ins were affected. United's website was unavailable at around 4 p.m. ET, with a message stating: "We are experiencing technical difficulties. This will temporarily affect our ability to serve you online." However, the airline did acknowledge the problem through its Twitter feed. "We have a network outage & are working to get systems back online. We'll update soon."

The airline wasn't the only party taking to Twitter. Disgruntled passengers were, too:

#united airlines computer system is down worldwide. I am stuck on the tarmac. — Bruce Williams (@domanite)

@UnitedAirlines computer system throughout the country went down over 30 min ago. Anyone have updates? (@madhukarkumar)

@UnitedAirlines did it again. Stuck in sacramento computers down. 5 united flights 5 bad experiences. (@Montana_Moose)

Long lines in Vancouver Due to @UnitedAirlines system#fail. Good luck getting it back on-line. (@TrevorRoald)

This isn't the first time computer malfunctions have hit the airline. Technical glitches snarled United flights and jammed phone lines in March soon after it adopted the reservation platform of Continental Airlines after the companies merged.

United is the largest carrier by destinations served, at 377 worldwide, and it carries 148 million passengers a year.