Thousands of Virgin Blue passengers were delayed yesterday at airports around Australia due to a technological glitch, with some flights cancelled.

Colin Lippiatt, manager of corporate communications for the Virgin Blue group, said the problem hit terminal check-in points just after 8am local time.

"We've been advised the cause is an external supplier's hardware failure," Lippiatt said.

He said measures had been taken to rectify the problem but the automated system had to be tested before it could started up again.

The computer problem had affected Virgin Blue flights, as well as the web check-in service, and some Virgin Pacific international flights.

As a result, airport staff had switched to manual check-in and boarding procedures.