United grounds 777s, warns of delays

April 2, 2008 10:29:22 AM PDT
Some United Airlines passengers should expect delays or cancellations Wednesday. That's because United is the latest airline to order plane inspections.

All of United's 777 jets have been temporarily grounded. Those planes are used for long distance flights.

Well, here we go again. It is tough to be a traveler these days, especially on the airlines. This time, it is United's flights that are being canceled and delayed, because of those industry-wide inspections. That's leaving passengers scrambling once more.

The Chicago-based airline temporarily grounded its big jets, the Boeing 777s, to make sure components of a cargo fire suppression system are ok. United said a review of maintenance records showed a test on one of five bottles in the fire suppression system hadn't been performed. The airline said testing will be done on 52 planes, 11 percent of United's fleet. They say a diagnostic system would have responded to safety issues eventually.

This comes after American and Delta pulled their flights recently for FAA inspections and Southwest grounded its planes to check them after a $10 million fine from the federal government.

As for the people in the middle of all this, the travelers affected at O'Hare Wednesday morning, passengers there were just wondering what's next.

"It's just frustrating to have to wait," said Nancy Kurtz, traveler.

"I'm ok with it. As long as I know that they are taking care of the plane, I'm fine with that. I would rather them take care of it than for me to get up there and something is wrong," said David Daniels, traveler.

Delays were being reported in Japan and Hawaii Wednesday morning and the airline warned passengers to be prepared for other delays and cancellations as it proceeded with the inspections. So far, at O'Hare, only a couple of complete cancellations have been reported. United hopes to have all of this done, all these planes inspected, in about 36 hours.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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