Passengers Delayed by Computer Glitch

December 9, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. glitch / glɪtʃ / (n.) – an error or problem in a computer
Example: Even today, computers still have glitches.

2. knock out / nɒk aʊt / (v.) – to make something useless
Example:  The lightning storm knocked out all the electronics in the building.

3. disturbance / dɪˈstɜr bəns /  (n.) – a short period of disorder or trouble
Example: I often hear about political disturbances in the news.

4. malicious / məˈlɪʃ əs / (adj.) – meant to harm or destroy
Example:  She was a victim of malicious rumors in her old company.

5. manual / ˈmæn yu əl / (adj.) – used or done with hands
Example: This mall has both manual and automatic doors.


Read the text below.
Passengers flying in and out of New York were delayed after a glitch knocked out customs computers for about two hours.

The disturbance began at New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport around 7PM on October 15. Passengers in airports in Miami, Charlotte, Dallas, Boston, and Los Angeles also had the same experience. 

The glitch affected computers used to screen for terror suspects. This raised fears that the system had been hacked. However, the Department of Homeland Security stated that there was no evidence for this.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection added that there was nothing to indicate that the computer crash was malicious in nature. What truly caused the glitch has not yet been identified.

People took to social media to share details about the interruption and their emotions throughout the incident.

Some people criticized how the airport management reacted to the glitch. People wondered why the staff did not do manual checks instead of stopping operations. Others expressed their worry over missing their flights, especially those who had connecting flights.

Within the same month, a similar incident happened across different US airports, which affected passengers of Southwest Airlines. A glitch in the computers used for check-in prevented boarding passes from being printed, which resulted in airline staff manually checking in passengers.

The airline company communicated with their customers through their website, requesting them to be at the airport at least two hours before their flight and to print their boarding passes. More than 400 flights were reported to have been delayed because of the incident.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the airport management handled the glitch well? Why or why not?
·         If you had been one of the passengers affected by the glitch, what would you have done?

Discussion B

·         What improvements in your country’s airport would you like to see? Why?
·         If your country’s airport encountered a glitch, do you think the staff would handle it well? Why or why not?

December 9, 2015