Delta is latest airline to trip over technology

USA Today  2016-08-08 21:49:37

1 of 272 of 273 of 274 of 275 of 276 of 277 of 278 of 279 of 2710 of 2711 of 2712 of 2713 of 2714 of 2715 of 2716 of 2717 of 2718 of 2719 of 2720 of 2721 of 2722 of 2723 of 2724 of 2725 of 2726 of 2727 of 27AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideDelta passengers wait in line at a ticket counter at Newark Liberty International Airport on Aug. 8, 2016.(Photo: Seth Wenig, AP)Delta became the latest airline felled by technology when a computer outage overnight led to hundreds of canceled flights and thousands of stranded travelers in what industry experts say is an avoidable problem for airlines.With its systems meltdown Monday, Delta became the second airline this summer to fall victim to a computer glitch that sent its operations into a tailspin. Southwest had to cancel 2,300 flights in July when a router failed and backup systems didn't kick into gear as expected.?Delta, a carrier that touts its reliability, blamed ?a power outage in Atlanta," the airline's operational hub, that struck its computer systems and operations worldwide. Georgia Power said a Delta equipment failure overnight caused the power outage. ?We don?t believe it was a Georgia Power issue," said Craig Bell, a spokesman for Georgia Power.The outage forced Delta to cancel 450 flights by 1:30 p.m. ET on a busy travel day.USA TODAYWhat to know if you?re flying Delta MondayUSA TODAYPassengers stranded after Delta flights grounded worldwideTens of thousands of people were stranded Monday after Delta Air Lines flights were grounded around the globe due to a system outage. Collin Brennan, USA TODAYExperts such as Bill Curtis, senior vice president and chief scientist at CAST, which analyzes software for large companies, suspects a glitch in the software that runs the airline's complex computer systems.Airline computers juggle multiple systems that must interact to control gate, reservations, ticketing and frequent fliers. Each of those pieces may have been written separately by different companies, Curtis said. Even if an airline has backup systems, the software running those likely has the same coding flaw, he said.?This smells like it triggered something that was a problem in the software,? Curtis said. ?You think you?ve got it all worked out, but these things are so large and so complex that you?ve still made some assumptions and every once in a while those assumptions bite you."Although the source of a power failure is fairly simple to identify, tracking down a software flaw can be harder.?It?s like investigating crime; there is a lot of data they?ve got to sift through to figure out what actually happened,? Curtis said.Analysts say it's surprising that airlines would risk catastrophic computer failures that can bring business to a halt.?There?s really no good explanation for it,? said Robert Mann, an industry analyst at R.W. Mann & Co. and former airline executive. ?I suspect there will be a lot of internal review, as well. You can?t do business without the front end working.?The outage for Delta, which prides itself on the fewest cancellations in the industry, according to Transportation Department statistics, followed similar problems for its peers in recent years.In addition to Southwest Airlines' router failure in July, United Airlines a year earlier blamed a router for an outage as it merged computer systems with the former Continental Airlines. In April 2013, American Airlines had an outage that canceled hundreds of flights during its merger with the former US Airways.USA TODAYUnions want Southwest CEO removedUSA TODAYTechnical glitch disrupts United flights nationwideUSA TODAYAA promises near-normal operation WednesdayDelta's failure is unusual because the airline is known for its reliability and in-house computer system, said Seth Kaplan, editor of Airline Weekly, who also wrote a book, Glory Lost and Found, about Delta?s resurgence since 2001.In contrast, Southwest ?is sort of limping along with a very antiquated system that they?re about to replace,? he said.Other airlines contract out for computer services, Kaplan said.?There?s no way to truly test it in a live environment. Clearly, Delta didn?t do enough,? Kaplan said. ?Fortunately for Delta, it goes into this with a lot of capital with its customers.?Henry Harteveldt, an airline analyst and founder of San Francisco-based Atmosphere Research, found it baffling that Delta, which is known for investing in its information technology, didn't have a parallel system in place.?What I don?t know is why they don?t have a fail-safe method that, if there is a power outage, that there should be redundant systems,? Harteveldt said. ?There should be a backup system somewhere else.?1 of 532 of 533 of 534 of 535 of 536 of 537 of 538 of 539 of 5310 of 5311 of 5312 of 5313 of 5314 of 5315 of 5316 of 5317 of 5318 of 5319 of 5320 of 5321 of 5322 of 5323 of 5324 of 5325 of 5326 of 5327 of 5328 of 5329 of 5330 of 5331 of 5332 of 5333 of 5334 of 5335 of 5336 of 5337 of 5338 of 5339 of 5340 of 5341 of 5342 of 5343 of 5344 of 5345 of 5346 of 5347 of 5348 of 5349 of 5350 of 5351 of 5352 of 5353 of 53AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide76 CONNECT 8 LINKEDIN EMAILMORERead or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2aVza6L

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