by Steve Handelsman
WASHINGTON (NBC) - It was a rough travel day for millions of flyers in this country. A glitch in a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) computer, Thursday morning, led to thousands of delayed and canceled flights coast to coast.
It was a cascade of backed up planes, and delayed and canceled flights. The problem started at 5:00 AM Eastern time.
An FAA computer system, used by pilots to file flight plans, went down. Air traffic controllers had to type in the data for thousands of flight plans. All this just as millions of travelers were arriving at airports.
In Atlanta, some passengers were on board.
"The captain came on at about 6:15 and said there's been a delay" said one woman.
The tracking of planes was never affected. The computer was fixed at 9:00 AM Eastern, but delays rippled up the east coast to Boston.
"And I find out about this glitch, so I turned on the Airport Channel and I find out that my flight was canceled" said Lauren Appelbaum of Boston.
Flyers in Washington asked, why?
"I would think that in the age of technology, that they would have a backup system of some kind" said one traveler.
The FAA said technical and safety experts are discussing system corrections, but it's the second failure in 15 months.
"This system has needed a re-do for the last decade" said former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Jim Hall.
"And we are going to see repeated failures if we don't address this system."
Making matters worse today was bad weather in the East and Midwest. At least it wasn't Thanksgiving week.
"If this would have happened on the Wednesday coming up, you would have had a lot of very mad people who only fly once a year" said one man.