Southwest computer glitch strands passengers, luggage at Midway

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Southwest Airlines scrambled to get flight operations back on schedule after a major computer glitch. (WLS)

Southwest Airlines scrambled to get flight operations back on schedule after a major computer glitch. The outage created extremely long lines at Midway International Airport that lasted more than a day.

Southwest issued an apology on its website. The airlines said it had fixed all of the glitches, but that it would take some time to catch up on its schedule.

By Thursday afternoon, the crowds at Midway had dissipated but hundreds of suitcases remained in the baggage claim. Earlier, the lines to check in wound around the terminal like a maze and down a hallway 100 yards long.

Time lapse of Southwest passengers waiting in line at Midway
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A major outage at Southwest Airlines created massive lines at Midway Airport that bled into the next day.

"Five different lines. Nobody knows where we're going and we just keep switching places," said Shauna Bellen, a Southwest passenger.

"For us to be here - we get here three hours early and we still have to wait in this long line - it's just bad," said Jimmy West, another Southwest passenger.

Southwest said it had multiple performance issues with technology systems as a result of an outage Wednesday afternoon, when 700 flights were canceled and hundreds more were delayed.

"Our flight has been canceled. We just found out by looking at the board. We didn't get an email or anything," said Andrea May, a Southwest traveler.

As of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, more than 220 flights were scrapped. Some people slept on benches at Midway. The Tuinstra family, of Bartlett, Illinois, missed a wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, after waiting in line for hours.

"It's really frustrating - especially if you have children, because they don't understand," said Amber Tunistra, another Southwest traveler.

Southwest apologized to angry passengers who hammered the airline on Twitter.

Andrea Harris, of Chicago, tried to get her son to camp in Texas. His flight was canceled Wednesday and Thursday.

"It's money that we can't get back for camps. It's crazy," said Andrea Harris, a Southwest flier.

The massive lines disappeared around mid-morning Thursday. Southwest said it would re-book passengers for free.
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travelairplaneair traveltravelu.s. & worldcomputerssouthwest airlinesChicago - Midway Airport
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