Computer meltdown strands thousands at LAX

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Los Angeles (CA) – Nearly 20,000 passengers were stranded on planes and area hotels at the Los Angeles International Airport after two computer glitches shutdown passenger screening systems.  According to acting port director Peter Gordon, the first and largest computer failure happened at 2PM on Saturday and forced thousands of fliers to stay inside of planes that had landed at the busy airport.  A second glitch happened on Sunday and delayed a few more thousand passengers.

The Saturday computer failure knocked out the airport’s database of passengers that require secondary screening.  External connectivity to the national database and internal local area network connections were both down, according to Gordon.  The airport switched to a backup system a few hours later, but that could only handle half the passengers as the regular system.

Passengers that had already landed at the airport were forced to stay on board their planes planes for up to six hours.  Gordan said the original system was fixed around midnight, but it took until 3:50 AM for all the backlogged passengers to get through Customs and Immigration. As you can imagine, thousands of passengers missed connecting flights and had to find hotel rooms in the local area.

A supposedly unrelated computer glitch happened at 11:50 PM Sunday and caused 29 workstations to lose connectivity at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.  1700 passengers were delayed, according to airport officials.

Gordan has proposed that Customs workers have a backup laptop system that doesn’t rely on the main system for information.  He also wants to build new holding rooms so that passengers won’t have to wait on planes if immigration gets backed up.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has called the computer meltdown “unacceptable” and vows to launch full review of procedures.