American Airlines luggage back in the air at JFK

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American Airlines officials said they have resolved the technical problem that left hundreds of bags of luggage scattered and abandoned at the airline’s terminal at John International F. Kennedy Airport in a snafu that disrupted travelers Wednesday.

At about 3 a.m. Thursday, repair crews fixed the software problem that caused the baggage checking system at Terminal 8 to stop scanning the bar code attached to luggage, American spokesman Ned Raynolds said. With the machine back and running, the spokesman said the terminal was experiencing minor delays and passengers were not experiencing any difficulties.

“It’s like night and day today. Flights are taking off with the baggage as usual,” he said.

The malfunction began around 4 a.m. Wednesday and lasted for the rest of the day, according to the airline. The terminal’s crew laid out each piece of luggage on the floor and manually checked each bag before loading it on the aircraft.

At one point, nearly 1,000 pieces of luggage were left at the terminal for final checking, Raynolds said.

Passengers were given a choice of waiting for their bag to be checked or having their belongings flown to their destination at a later date. The airline was going to send “several hundred” bags to the passengers aboard other flights Thursday, Raynolds said.

The baggage machine problem caused long delays for 48 flights, the airline said. Three flights were canceled and two departing planes were redirected to LaGuardia Airport. American waived its $15 fee for checked bags to accommodate passengers.  

Despite the delays, Raynolds said airport workers were impressed with how well passengers handled the problem.

“We are happy it is done and proud that our passengers were calm and patient,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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