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Widespread computer outage hit American, JetBlue, leaving passengers grounded

The problem, now resolved, was related to the computer system used for bookings and reservations.

American Airlines
American was one of the airlines affected by the outage. 
Getty Images

Many travelers were left waiting around Tuesday after a computer glitch hit the reservation and booking system used by several US airlines.

American Airlines, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines were among the companies affected by the outage. The airlines are now saying systems have been restored.

"All functions have been restored following a temporary outage of Sabre's systems that impacted multiple airlines," JetBlue said in a statement. "We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience."

The outage hit the Sabre flight reservation and booking system used by several major airlines. Sabre acknowledged in a tweet Tuesday that it experienced a "system issue" but said operations were back to normal. Airline-related computer outages have caused inconvenience in the past, like when United Airlines flights were grounded in 2015 because of problems caused by a faulty router.

Popular internet services also face occasional outages, leading to speculation that hackers are causing mischief. Earlier in March, Facebook was down for a day, but the company said a misconfigured server caused the problem. In 2016, hackers were responsible for a daylong outage that took down several popular services, including Twitter, Reddit, Netflix and Spotify.

In their statements, the companies involved in Tuesday's outage didn't provide details of what caused the problem.

"Earlier today, Sabre experienced a system issue that impacted some customers," Sabre tweeted. "Technical teams were immediately engaged. Systems have recovered and customers are reporting normal operations. We apologize for the inconvenience to those affected."

American Airlines made a similar statement, calling the problem "a brief technical issue" that affected multiple airlines. "This technical issue has been resolved," the company said. "We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience."

Alaska Airlines didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Originally published March 26, 10:06 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:52 a.m.: Adds comments from JetBlue and Sabre.