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Airline system crashes: How do they happen?


Speaking as the victim of Delta disasters at both ends of my recent vacation, I have the same question millions of us do by now: How does it happen, and what can stop it?

Sometimes, as at the beginning of my trip, bad weather—somewhere—disrupts the system, leaves passengers stranded and planes in the wrong place. The airlines can't prevent that, but need much better systems for rebooking and recovery. In my case, it took 7 hours to get a suitcase back from a cancelled flight.

Other times, airlines have suffered computer failures, such as Delta's on Monday morning, Southwest's last month, United's last year and ... it goes on. Once a system crashes and passengers can't be boarded, planes can't fly, etc. it gets difficult to recover. The next planes out may not have seats, the plane for the outbound flight is stuck in another city, etc.

An extensive article in today's USA Today examines many of these aspects, and pinpoints some areas that need work. Among the problems:

  • Airlines have added more and more functions to old software
  • Airline systems rely on multiple computer programs that sometimes don't work well together
  • Mergers of airlines have led to incomplete or botched computer system mergers
  • Physical equipment isn't set up for true redundancy (if one copy goes down another keeps running)

For the full article in USA Today, click HERE

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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