Coverage: Delta computer failure hits travelers
Delta Air Lines Inc. had a major computer failure on Monday, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and stranding passengers across the country.
Jeffrey Dastin of Reuters had the news:
Atlanta-based Delta, the second-largest U.S. airline by passenger traffic, said it had canceled 451 flights after a power outage that began around 2:30 a.m. EDT (0630 GMT) in Atlanta. Flights gradually resumed about six hours later.
The disruptions dealt a blow to Delta’s efforts to use its recent success in avoiding flight cancellations to win over corporate and leisure customers. With Monday’s outage, Delta now joins rivals Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc among airlines that have suffered flight disruptions during the past year due to data system malfunctions.
The financial impact from Monday’s flight cancellations was not yet clear. Delta said passengers booked for travel Aug. 8-12 would be entitled to a refund if their flight is canceled or significantly delayed. The airline said late Monday it would provide $200 in travel vouchers to all customers who experienced a delay of greater than three hours or a canceled flight as a result of Monday’s disruptions.
Analyst Jim Corridore of S&P Global Market Intelligence downplayed the impact to Delta, saying it was “not as severe as a mild snowstorm.” However, Corridore added “the reason for the cancellations are a cause for concern and needs to be explained.”
Kelly Yamanouchi of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on how Delta was making up for lost flights:
As of 7 p.m. Delta said it had canceled more than 740 flights. The airline’s total worldwide schedule for Monday had about 6,000 flights. Atlanta-based Delta’s biggest connecting hub is at Hartsfield-Jackson International.
Delta also said it will issue $200 travel vouchers to all customers whose flights were canceled or delayed more than three hours as a result of the outage Monday.
“We want our customers to know we are thoroughly investigating the matter and that we are truly sorry,” said Delta chief operating officer Gil West in a written statement.
While it resumed flights and said its systems are fully operational, Delta also said Monday afternoon that delays and cancellations remain as it recovers. The airline said it was focusing on improving operations at its Atlanta hub to reduce further delays.
“While systems are improving and flights are resuming, delays and cancellations continue,” the airline had said at Noon.
Ashley Halsey III of the Washington Post quoted experts saying the problem could have been prevented:
Bijan Vasigh, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, said it may be time for airlines to invest in totally new computer systems to replace the patchwork networks now in place.
“The cost [of Monday’s shutdown] should be huge for Delta Air Lines,” he said “I’m sure that they will try to revisit this issue.”
Airlines rely on their computer systems to manage a number of operations, including obvious elements, such as reservations and ticketing, and behind-the- scenes management of plane movement, gate assignments, air crew scheduling and even the displays on arrival-departure screens at many airports.
Delta’s computer system failure came at the height of the summer travel season and on a Monday when many business travelers head to airports to begin their workweek. But Vasigh pointed out that it could have been worse.
“Imagine if this event had happened during Thanksgiving or Christmas; this would be catastrophic for the airline,” Vasigh said. “Recapturing those passengers and accommodating them would be a nightmare.”