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United's Web site back on steady ground

Customers are no longer locked out of the airline's site or directed to another site that loops them back endlessly to the original page.

After a bumpy ride yesterday, United Airlines' Web site is up and running again.

Customers were shut out of the site yesterday morning and, in the afternoon, were directed to another Web site that looped them back endlessly to the original page.

The site offered to visitors was a travel-planning page from the Internet Travel Network (ITN), which developed United Airlines' site. But if customers tried to click on other pages within the site, they came across an unusual error message that read: "No, you did not make a mistake. We've redesigned our Web site. Unfortunately, the URL you requested is no longer valid. Visit us at http://www.ual.com/ to see our new site or, if you do nothing, we will redirect you to our site momentarily."

But following those directions led visitors back to the travel-planning page on ITN.

"Everything's been fixed. Full functionality came back at 2 a.m. last night," company spokesman Joe Hopkins said this morning.

"Hopefully, this will be the last of this kind of technical problem," he added, not specifying the nature of the difficulties.

The error message that visitors ran across was apparently from a site redesign page from almost six months ago, when the company launched a new look for its site, Hopkins said.