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All US flights cancelled for several hours

World News – A key computer system used to run many daily operations at American Airlines failed Tuesday, forcing the third-largest U.S. carrier to ground all flights across the United States for several hours and stranding thousands of frustrated passengers at airports and on planes. 

Flights already in the air were allowed to continue to their destinations, but planes on the ground from coast to coast could not take off. And travelers could do little to get back in the air until the computer system was restored.

American blamed its reservation system, which is used for much more than booking flights. Airlines commonly rely on such systems to track passengers and bags, monitor who has boarded a plane and to update flight schedules and gate assignments. The computers are also used to file flight plans and to help determine how much fuel to put in an aircraft or which seats should be filled to ensure a plane is properly balanced.

The failure caused cascading delays and cancellations nationwide. American and sister airline American Eagle had cancelled 970 flights and delayed at least 1,068 more by early evening Tuesday, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.com. The outage began in midmorning and stretched into the afternoon. The systems were fixed by 4:30 p.m. Eastern (2030 GMT), airline spokeswoman Stacey Frantz said. But even as some flights took off, the airline expected delays and cancellations to persist for the rest of the day. Agencies

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