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Glitches at US Airways delay flights

US Airways passengers at Logan International Airport and other US Airways hubs faced a second day of long check-in lines and delayed flights yesterday after a computer system upgrade generated a host of glitches.

By late yesterday at Logan, passengers were generally dealing with waits of no more than 5 to 10 minutes to have airline workers manually check them in after the mix-up knocked out dozens of check-in kiosks.

But most flights were still leaving Boston 30 to 40 minutes late, and airline officials weren't ready to predict operations would be trouble-free today.

"I don't want to say that it'll be back to normal [today]," US Airways Group Inc. spokesman Philip Gee said. "We simply don't know when the kiosks are going to be back up and stay up."

The fact that Tuesday is usually a light travel day, and that Web-based check-in systems were again operating normally, "obviously will help," Gee said. But the airline was still advising travelers to arrive at Logan and other airports 30 to 60 minutes earlier than usual.

Trouble began over the weekend when US Airways began one of the final steps in its 2005 merger with the former America West Airlines: combining the two carriers' computerized reservation systems.

That process led to failures of self-service kiosks, where customers check in for flights and get boarding passes and seat assignments, at Logan and at US Airways hubs including Charlotte, N.C., Las Vegas, and Philadelphia. At Logan yesterday, some kiosks, including two at the gates for the US Airways shuttles to New York and Washington, D.C., sporadically worked. Gee said that was consistent with a pattern computer technicians were battling yesterday as kiosks would occasionally work, then fail again.

By 1:45 p.m. yesterday, not one of the 31 scheduled US Airways flights had left Boston on time, and at least eight flights were more than 45 minutes late, according to FlightStats.com , a Portland, Ore., website that tracks airline and airport schedule data.

Gee acknowledged that "we are holding back flights a little bit throughout the system in the East to accommodate folks who may be experiencing delays at the airport." By late afternoon, Gee said, the airline was flying nationwide about 63 percent on time, compared to a typical 70 to 75 percent for a Monday afternoon without major weather issues, and up from below 50 percent Sunday.

Travelers at Logan interviewed yesterday said it was generally only a small hassle to have to get boarding passes from an airline agent instead of the kiosk and agreed US Airways was doing better than it had Sunday. "In Washington [Sunday] I had to wait about 45 minutes for something that should take about five minutes normally," said Randy Long , a federal government program manager who was returning to the capital from a business trip to Boston. He said he spent about 10 minutes in line at Logan yesterday. "Let's hope they get it fixed."

Jim Murray , an engineer at Waltham high-tech manufacturer Foster-Miller Inc. who was heading to Norfolk, Va., for business , arrived two hours before the flight and was surprised to find a short check-in line that took him only about five minutes to get through.

"This is a lot better than what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be out the door," said Murray, who had tried unsuccessfully to get a boarding pass through the airline website.

Thomas J. Kinton Jr. , executive director of the Massachusetts Port Authority , which runs Logan, said that the computer check-in problems "have clearly been a disruption to the US Airways customers, but they've had a lot of staff out there, and they seem to be managing it well. I have no had any indication of when it's going to be fixed."

US Airways acknowledged its first priority is fixing kiosks at its main Philadelphia and Charlotte hubs to keep the airline functioning smoothly, with Logan the priority after that.

Although nowhere near as disruptive, the US Airways computer problems couldn't help but bring up memories for passengers of massive problems JetBlue Airways Corp. faced after a Feb. 14 snowstorm led to cascading delays and 1,000 cance led flights over the following six days.

Peter J. Howe can be reached at howe@globe.com.

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