United suffers 2nd major grounding in 2 months

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU and wires)  -- Among the hundreds of delayed United Airlines passengers stranded at San Francisco International early Wednesday stood Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

For the second time this summer, the airline was forced to ground hold all its flights because of a computer issue.

Like most of his fellow travelers, Wozniak was taking Wednesday’s delay in stride.

“I take 200 flights a year so I’m patient when it comes to airports and flights,” Wozniak told KTVU as he awaited his delayed flight to Chicago. “Fortunately, I’m on a non-stop…I always leave myself a lot of time.”

The only annoyance voiced by Wozniak and others was that fact that United never alerted them of the delays.

“I never got an alert,” he said holding his iPhone.

Annie Agnew stood nearby with her husband and two children.  She also was being patient with the delay.

“It’s kinda like circa 1992,” she said of not getting a mobile alert from United. “You just go to the airport and find out about your flight.”

Elna Boesak was also among those waiting. Her family was flying to Chicago with a connecting flight to Indianapolis.

“These things happen,” she said. “You just can’t get too excited.”

Just shy of two hours after the problems began, the Federal Aviation Administration lifted the ground stop order.

United said it was recovering from a "network connectivity issue" and restoring regular flight operations. The airline said that it would have a waiver available on its website for customers that are able to change their flight plans.

It is the second time in two months that the carrier has been hit by major technical issues.

The Chicago company had halted all takeoffs in the U.S. on June 2 due to what the airline described as computer automation issues.

The Federal Aviation Administration used the same language in its notice about the outage Wednesday.

United suffered a series of computer problems in 2012 after switching to a passenger information computer system previously used by merger partner Continental Airlines.

In each case, hundreds of flights were delayed. A number of high-paying business travelers defected to other airlines and revenue dropped.

"We don't know everything behind this morning's issues yet, but today's incident underscores the sense that something is very wrong at United," said Gary Leff, co-founder of frequent-flier website MilePoint.

Shares of United Continental Holdings Inc. slid 2 percent to $53.20 in morning trading.