Glitch at U.S. Airways causes delays

The problem affected self-serve kiosks for travelers

US Airways Group Inc. suffered a glitch in its self-serve kiosk system that forced travelers to wait in long lines and flights to be delayed yesterday and today, according to spokeswoman Valerie Wunder. The glitch was tied to the integration of reservation systems used by America West Airlines. The two airlines merged in 2005.

The airline has isolated the problem and is working to correct it, she said.

"Right now there's an issue with the program code, which we feel that we've isolated and we're working to fix, so we're going to try and get that situation taken care of as soon as possible," said Wunder. "The integration with [America West] is complete and it's successful, but this is a result of it, or product of it."

US Airways had been using a reservations system called Sabre, while merger partner America West used an EDS Shares system.

Wunder said the glitch mostly affected the common-use kiosks on the East Coast -- more specifically at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C. She said the kiosks weren't functioning correctly so consumers had to check in at ticket counters, causing long lines. Passengers at other airports on the East Coast, including Boston's Logan International Airport, were also affected.

She said the airline first noticed the problem yesterday around 5:30 a.m. or 6 a.m. as US Airways attempted to combine the reservation systems of the airlines. "We're working to get this fixed ASAP," Wunder said. "This is our No. 1 priority."

Thousands of travelers waited in the lines on Sunday and about 500 travelers in Charlotte missed their flights. Another 20 travelers in Pittsburgh also missed flights. Between 60% and 70% of US Airways' customers use the self-service kiosks.

Last night, Portland, Ore.-based FlightStats, which monitors flight information, reported extreme departure delays for US Airways as it migrated to its unified technology platform with America West. "The relatively high performance of other major carriers and the competitive performance of flights... [by] America West underscores the significant challenges faced by US [Airways] or any carrier who has to change customer-facing technology," according to FlightStats.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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