Today’s network outage with Delta has led to hundreds of canceled flights and thousands of displaced passengers. Systems are mostly back online now after taking a break for 6-ish hours and planes and people are moving again. Beyond the normal advice in this sort of situation – be nice to front-line crew, it isn’t their fault; call an international res line to try to sneak to the head of the queue, etc. – I have three other observations.
It wasn’t a power failure
I have no doubt that the power to Delta’s data center failed at some point as the company and Georgia Power both acknowledge that. But saying that’s the cause of the outage rather than a catalyst or contributing factor or the on-set event or any number of other things simply belies the reality of network and data center design. Yes, the power failed. And then so did many other systems and/or processes. It is those systems which were the real issue here. Data centers aren’t designed with a single power source. The best ones aren’t designed with a single point of entry for power into the building. Maybe it was the power transfer switch that failed or a generator didn’t come online or any of a number of other things. But it was not “a power failure” that caused the outage. That’s misdirection from someone trying to oversimplify. And also probably trying to save their job.
Watch for Unaccompanied Minors
In its afternoon update around 1:30p EDT Delta mentioned several “things customers should know” about the outage. At the end of the list was this item about unaccompanied minors:
5. Unaccompanied Minors that have not yet begun their travel today will not be accepted for their flights. These customers will be able to rebook without fees for a later date.
This is the company’s way of saying it still does not have full confidence in the ability to operate the schedule so it is not willing to take on the liability of caring for kids, too. I applaud the airline for not taking that risk; that’s smart business at this point. But it also is something everyone else should keep an eye on towards what the next steps will be in the recovery path. When that restriction is lifted it means the company is far more confident in its operations.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) August 8, 2016
This may be the first time Delta has to pay out to corporate customers based on its Operational Performance Commitment program. Launched a year ago, the program requires Delta to pay up if it has more domestic mainline flights late and canceled than both American Airlines and United Airlines in a given month. A day like today will certainly hurt on that front and depending on how long the recovery stretches into the week the impact could be significant. Then again, it is only for domestic mainline and AA’s numbers haven’t been all that great even without systems issues so odds are Delta will skate by here anyways unless things are miserable into Thursday or so.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.