A computer software glitch crippled the baggage handling system at an American Airlines terminal at Kennedy Airport on Wednesday, delaying some flights and causing a luggage pileup at the ticket counters.

The malfunction created big problems throughout the morning for passengers flying out of Terminal 8.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said about 20 flights were delayed by 60 to 90 minutes. The airline was sorting luggage by hand, but the backlog meant that many bags didn't make it on to departing planes.

American was giving passengers the choice of waiting out the problem, or flying on without their luggage and having the bags delivered later.

"Until then, we appreciate our customers' patience as we work through this issue," Wagner said.

The airline's engineers and technicians from the system developer were working to diagnose the problem, he said.