What to do if you’re stranded by American Airlines

NEW YORK (AP) — American Airlines has grounded all flights across the U.S. until at least 5 p.m. because of a computer outage. Roughly 900 flights are directly impacted, according to flight tracking site FlightAware, with another 800 indirectly impacted due to planes and crew being out of place.

If you are stranded in the airport, here’s what to do:

— See if American will put you on another airline. Flight are fuller than ever before, so it is unlikely there are many available seats but it never hurts to ask.

— Consider buying a one-day pass to the airline lounge. You can get away from the crowd and there are usually free drinks and small snacks. But the real secret to the lounges is that the airline staffs them with some of its best and friendliest ticket agents. The lines inside will be much shorter and these agents are magically able to find empty seats where nobody else can. One-day passes typically cost $50 per person. Up to three children under the age of 18 years of age may be admitted at no additional charge with an adult.

— Ask for a hotel voucher. The airline might be willing to pay for your room or at least get you a discounted “distressed traveler” rate.

— Think about canceling. Airlines typically refund your money if the flight is canceled. If your schedule is flexible ask about getting a refund or being rebooked for a later date.

“If this happened to me, I would take refuge in the American Airlines lounge and have a few drinks and wait because there is very little one can do,” said George Hobica, founder of travel deal site Airfarewatchdog. “Keep calm and play nice. Screaming people do not get home faster than those who stay calm.”

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Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.

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