By DAVID KOENIG, AP Airlines Writer
DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines says it has fixed an outage in its main reservations system that is disrupting travel for thousands of passengers whose flights have been delayed or canceled. American Airlines spokeswoman Stacey Frantz said Tuesday that the system was fixed by 4:30 p.m. EDT. But the airline expects to see flight delays and cancellations throughout the rest of the day.
Tracking service FlightAware says that as of mid-afternoon, American has canceled more than 700 flights and another 765 flights are delayed.
A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said American asked to halt its flights until 5 p.m. EDT. American has 19 daily flights out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. All American Airlines flights -- which go to hubs in its five biggest cities, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami - are stopped until 5:30 p.m. EDT. "Any American plane sitting on the ground anywhere in the U.S." won't be taking off, said FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford.
Eight flights out of MSP have been canceled so far and more cancellations are expected, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said.
"American is not a major player here. They have about 3 percent of the total traffic at MSP," Hogan said. "But still that means thousands of people who are trying to get in and out of MSP on American are perhaps not going to be able to do that today."
Passengers are describing long airport lines and frustration at a lack of information from airline employees.
"Tensions are high. A lot of people are getting mad. I've seen several yelling at the American agents," said Julie Burch, a business-meeting speaker who was stuck at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport waiting for a flight to Denver. "Nobody can tell us anything."
Terry Anzur, a TV news consultant from Los Angeles who was also stranded at DFW, said American Airlines gate employees were doing everything the old-fashioned, manual way because their computers were useless.
"No one at the counter can do anything. They can't check people in," Anzur said. "The airline is at a dead halt."
American's problems on Tuesday were reminiscent of what United Airlines passengers endured on several days last year. United experienced computer glitches after combining its reservations system with that of Continental after the two airlines merged. On one day in August, 580 United flights were delayed and its website was shut down for two hours. Another outage in November delayed 636 flights.
As with the United meltdowns last year, American Airlines passengers used social media to flood the airline with complaints.
"We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as we can, and we apologize to our customers for this inconvenience," said Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for the airline.
Huguely said all flights would be held on the ground until Tuesday afternoon, when she promised the airline would provide an update.
The airline was offering free reservations changes and refunds for stranded passengers. But Huguely said American couldn't process those changes until the reservations system was fixed.
MPR News reporter Martin Moylan contributed to this story. AP Airlines Writers Scott Mayerowitz in New York and Joshua Freed in Minneapolis also contributed to this report.