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Mon, Aug 13, 2007

Computer Delay Leads To Over 20,000 Stranded Pax At LAX

International Passengers Kept On Planes For Hours

Officials at Los Angeles International Airport say a malfunctioning computer system was to blame for stranding over 20,000 international passengers on the ramp Saturday.

The US Customs and Border Protection system went down around 1400 PDT Saturday, reports the Los Angeles Times. The resulting delays forced some planes to sit on the tarmac for hours... so long, in fact, that crews were kept busy refilling fuel tanks for the aircrafts' auxiliary power units.

Things didn't get much better for passengers even after they were able to finally get off the planes. By the time passengers set foot in the Bradley terminal, most airport restaurants were closed... and long lines awaited them at those facilities still open.

"This is probably one of the worst days we've had. I've been with the agency for 30 years and I've never seen the system go down and stay down for as long as it did," said acting port director for customs Peter Gordon.

The system finally came back up just after midnight Sunday, said Los Angeles World Airports spokesman Tom Winfrey. The last few passengers cleared customs just before 0400. Two flights were diverted to other airports with customs services.

Delays and gridlock spread to other areas of LAX, as well. Airport parking lots were so gridlocked, customs spokesman Michael Fleming told reporters after an extremely long day, he opted to stay at the airport -- rather than fight traffic.

FMI: www.lawa.org/lax/, www.customs.gov

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