Sky Talk

No. 9: Computer problems at airlines

Southwest Airlines passengers stand in line at the ticketing/checking counter at Hobby Airport on Thursday, July 21, 2016, in Houston. Southwest Airlines struggled to recover from a massive computer outage, canceling hundreds of flights around the country. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Southwest Airlines passengers stand in line at the ticketing/checking counter at Hobby Airport on Thursday, July 21, 2016, in Houston. Southwest Airlines struggled to recover from a massive computer outage, canceling hundreds of flights around the country. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP) AP

Technology glitches, failed routers and power outages led to thousands of flights being canceled and delayed this year.

In July, Southwest Airlines was forced to cancel over 1,500 flights over three days after a router failed and its backup systems failed as well. Customers weren’t able to check in for flights or print luggage tags from airport kiosks. The website was down for almost a day with the airline saying it cost the carrier $55 million in lost revenues.

A month later, Delta Air Lines said a power outage crippled its computer systems forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights. Initially, customers didn’t know there was an problem until they showed up at the airport as Delta’s website showed flights as being on time. In some instances, employees had to write boarding passes by hand to check in passengers.

Multiple carriers were affected by two separate technical glitches with the Sabre computer reservations system in the fall. In one instance, customers couldn’t book flights on Southwest, JetBlue Airways or Virgin America’s websites. In another, passengers at American, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue couldn’t check in or get boarding passes.

Southwest had problems again in December as it check-in system was not working on its website or its mobile app. Flights were not affected as gate agents and customer service representatives were still able to check customers in at airports.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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