Delta's Outage Stretches for 3 Days

The other day, I wrote about an outage with Delta that was caused by a power failure. At the time, when the issue was first starting, it appeared to be a problem with the power provider in Atlanta. As the CEO of Delta takes responsibility now, the outage seems to not only be Delta's fault, but has become a huge problem for the last 3 days.

Problems began Monday very early when a power problem occurred with a transformer at the data center that also caused a fire. This should have triggered backup systems to kick on, but that was not the case here. Further failures caused the Delta IT teams to completely take down the controlling systems and bring them back up. As Delta did so, more issues came up while trying to bring the system back online.

This is a major black eye for Delta. The company has been spending significant resources to upgrade IT infrastructure and keep things moving forward with new technology trends. The upgrades should have allowed the systems to easily handle such an interruption, but instead has caused days of delays and cancellations. Over the 3 days we've seen issues at Delta, the company has had to cancel 2100 flights. For a company that has just set a new internal record for number of days without a single cancelled flight, this is a huge slap in the face.

Further more, these events seem to be happening more and more often. A very similar situation took down United a short time ago. Backup systems that didn't properly come online causing a day of delays and cancellations.

This is not much of a surprise. I've long followed the technology world. One thing that is very common is for companies to ignore IT and for those (CTO's) running the IT departments to have little to no knowledge of the systems they are helping to run. Money often is funneled to the wrong things, IT administrators suggestions are often overlooked or completely ignored. In turn, the money that is used, is put toward the wrong items.

Delta seems to be no different and is admitting to that now in the wake of these problems. They are questioning if the investment they've been making has been in the right places. Let's hope Delta learns some lessons here and changes their behavior a bit.

Atlanta Power Outage Grounds Delta Flights

Early this morning, about 2:30am, parts of Atlanta experienced a power outage. This outage unfortunately caught Delta's scheduling and logistic computer systems, taking down their systems. This forced Delta to issue a ground stop for all aircraft worldwide and placer all aircraft on delays. Any aircraft already airborne were unaffected by the system failure.

As of 8:30am, all systems had been restored to working order, but the outage has backed up flights severely this morning and will likely cause issues throughout the day with incoming and outgoing flights worldwide as ground traffic will need to be shuffled and reorganized. 

Due to the length of the outage, Delta is warning of large scale delays and cancellations all day today while they attempt to get things back on track. Due to the system failure, Delta has also issued a notice stating that customers impacted by cancellations or sever delays will be entitled to a refund. Also if you would like to reschedule your flights, all change fees are being waived for flights departing and impacted by this failure.

Delta, 100 Days Cancellation Free

In what seems to be a trend with Delta over the last few years, the company has announced that it is ahead of their 2015 pace for remaining cancellation free for as long as possible. Right now, Delta is continuing forward after achieving 100 days without a single cancelled flight, and despite my past gripes with their operations, this is impressive.

To keep this all in context, we need to realize how much of a nightmare it must be to deal with the day to day logistics of running an airline. Flights have to be scheduled, including all of the ground activity supporting every flight. Planes must them fly to the destinations, and then make the next time, fly and continue this trend. Bigger planes tend to make fewer flights, but when you start to talk about these short regional aircraft, it gets impressive. Once tracking a single flight of mine, I saw a minimum of 6 stops prior to ever starting my flight as its last of the day.

When you take into account these many hops for regional jets, add in the craziness that is Atlanta, and the impressiveness of this achievement becomes clear. After all, Atlanta is the single busiest airport in the world. Dealing with such a crowded airport makes any operation difficult as small changes in weather can significantly back up air traffic can cause cascading delays all day. Getting a handle on the logistics of something this scale while difficult, Delta shows it's not impossible to make very efficient.

One thing to also consider is that with fewer cancellations come more on time aircraft most likely. While personally I care deeply about the miles program and where I can get using low cost for the highest gain, most people just want to get someplace on time for a vacation or meeting. If on time performance is better with Delta, many will choose them over a competitor for that reason.

When you factor all of this in, is it any wonder Delta is the single most profitable airline?

Let The Snow Flow

As many of you are most likely aware of at this point, much of the East Coast is in the middle of a "blizzard." With the snow often comes travel delays, cancellations and interrupted plans. Due to the storm's predicted severity, many airlines preemptively cancelled flights and interrupted plans for many passengers. 

Almost all of the airlines are significantly impacted by this storm. American Airlines has hubs in JFK, Philadelphia and Charlotte. Delta has hubs in JFK and Atlanta. United has a hub in Newark. All of this means not only massive delays for those flying out from those cities, it also means huge delays and headaches for anyone connecting through these cities including a majority of international travel to Europe, Middle East and more. Living in Philadelphia, I can say that we are certainly raking in the snow at the moment, 8.8 inches where I live as of 6am this morning.

With all of the craziness that comes with air travel for most people, the last thing anyone wants is to re-book their trip. Most of the airlines have ways of making changes due to weather, without paying the normal fee. 

Here's where to go to make changes to your flights.

Those are the major carriers in the United States, other carriers have similar policies and can be re-booked, fees removed, even refunds in some cases. Look to your carriers website for more information if you don't know what your options are in these cases.