Here are some crazy things I have encountered.
Rental cars in our city are sold out. Same for cities within two hours drive. The websites will accept reservations, but when you show up, they tell you they have no cars. Because it's the holidays, busses and trains are booked and any flights on other airlines are crazy expensive ($1500 one way). When you are stuck in a city, you are probably truly stuck there.
Your only hope of dealing with SWA is waiting in line at check-in or a gate. The phones don't work. Online chat doesn't work. The lines are long and slow.
Luggage is hit or miss. If your bag was pulled off a plane, you might find it in baggage claim, but most bags are on a plane or on the tarmac. SWA told us it may be 30 days until we get our luggage. They won't pull bags for people, and the agents that we spoke with acknowledged and felt for people who may have had medicine in them.
The workers are as befuddled as the passengers. They have been very nice and as helpful as they can be, but their phones haven't been working and their computer systems have been slow.
On Twitter, someone posted a video of the announcement at Houston Hobby about no flights until the 31st and people keeping their receipts for hotels, etc. They said the same thing at our airport.
People in the airport are so mad. It's unfortunate because it's not constructive. But tempers are flaring, and frustrated passengers who finally get to talk to an agent end up slowing things down because they spend a lot of time trying to hear something they're not going to hear.
Ultimately, this is an operations failure. Companies talk a lot about accountability, but the typical way you hold people accountable is by replacing them with more capable people. It will be very interesting to see if any executives leave SWA over this. If not, I would say that no one was held accountable.
To close, my family and I are fine. This is but a minor speed bump in life. No one is dying, and we will see how SWA takes care of the extra expenditures. Some people aren't so lucky. They have meds in bags, or finances that don't allow them to spend multiple nights in a hotel and get Uber trips for a few days. Hopefully, SWA takes care of them, too.
I can’t say I recommend then offering to shove everyone else in the back.
This has been one of the reasons I heavily lean toward direct flights now - that way if stranded im either at home or my destination.
There’s also greyhound and Amtrak.
The car had 2 girls in it who hotboxed the car the entire 6 hour drive, then missed his exit near San Jose and got pulled over for an unrelated reason.
Says if he wasn't married now he would do it again in a heartbeat.
Casual reminder to keep all medicine in your carry-on! Even gate-checked bags get delayed and lost. I never realized that could happen with a gate-check until it happened to me. They loaded all of the gate-checked bags onto our plane, but then that put it over a weight limit, so they took a pallet or two of them off and put them on another flight. Of course, it was a complicated multi-leg international flight to boot.
Regardless - don't check anything you aren't prepared to say goodbye to.
But also I've traveled for a month (us to India) from my backpack. One week of clothes, a laptop, some cables, notebook and pens, perhaps a couple more books, a few toiletries. And still some room for one 'fun' thing, like a small synthesizer to jam on.
It's a bit like ultralight backpacking; you can cut down quite a lot one you get in the mindset. I definitely don't claim it works for everyone... But probably most people can travel rather lighter than they normally do.
Fwiw, my travel backpack is pretty similar to this one. Definitely a bit bigger than the standard backpack, much smaller than a hiking backpack, and rather smaller than a roller bag.
And usually not in a city other than your point of departure or expected arrival.
Southwest should be responsible for making it worse.
Keep it on your person. Always.
Who can step in to make some baseline rules that corporations have to abide by so people aren't screwed like this?
This has been procedure for the last 40 years.
There is no excuse that is feasable or plausible for 'forgetting' important medications in the checked baggage.
This is a reading comprehension problem and not an airline issue.
You have never forgotten to pack something, or perhaps forgotten an important detail in a stressful situation?
They jump around the country, much less frequently going back to a hub as other airlines do. That means that the planes and crews have a relatively harder time recovering from system-wide disasters because they don't have as part of normal operations as much ability to centralize or pool resources and get people/planes reorganized. (everyone go back to base, consolidate passengers, crew, planes and redeploy them and sort things out in one place)
Unfortunate, but that's their model. Good for some purposes, not so good for others. Maybe it's them being quirky and an active choice. I mean, up until a few years ago they did not fly to Hawaii because their scheduling system / people / processes did not want to have redeye flights.
..And the one thing that might have saved Southwest in the past, its ferocious employee loyalty and willingness to go several extra miles when the shit hit the fan because they knew they were being taken care of, has been utterly destroyed by the new management.
People were loyal to Herb (not SWA) because Herb was loyal to them. Herb’s gone, loyalty’s gone.
> They're legally protected when doing this, and it's why that
> doctor got dragged off that flight.
The effect is the same either way. Someone paid for a ticket and they don't get to board the plane.
Another way to think of it is what could an airline have reasonably done to avoid the situation? If it's overbooking, the reasonable thing is to not overbook. If it's overselling, they could choose not to fully book their scheduled equipment, but is that reasonable? They can't choose to have 100% reliable planes and crews and weather and ground operations. Stuff happens, and it's certainly reasonable to be upset when it does, but understanding why it happened can be helpful, so making a distinction between overbooking and overselling makes sense to me.
The airline sold you something that they can't deliver because they refuse to keep extra planes around. They refuse to keep extra planes around because that would eat into profits, and would mean their execs wouldn't be able to buy their third gold-plated yachts.
Seatguru says  southwest flies three variants, 737-700 with 143 seats and 737-800 and 737-Max 8 both with 175 seats.
If a -700 gets substituted in, that's a lot of missing seats. I've also flown on planes where one seat is out of service for whatever reason and usually has a plastic cover on it.
This is definitely their fault, but nothing like United pulling the doctor off the plane
The bottom line here is that the hub-and-spoke model is more resilient than the point-to-point model.
It’s the only thing that explains why Southwest was uniquely impacted this week. Every other airline has staff issues, and the same weather to deal with.
With a point to point network, the coordination problem is much larger than with a hub and spoke network. That is probably what pushed Southwest’s software over the limit. But remember, the software didn’t fail by itself in a vacuum. Resiliency problems during a weather event were the root cause.
It must really help all the employees with routine and consistency even if it’s not optimal.
That said, I flew Southwest from SJC to LAS for CES one year, connecting in SAN. Weather wasn't great, and they'd put you on the next available flight with an empty seat. They were even able to shuffle people without going up to the podium. Legacy carriers would have drug their feet, there'd be a line, and they'd charge for the privilege of changing flights.
I'd look at it the other way around: cancelling is so annoying for them that they're often the last ones to do it (barring catastrophic collapse, of course).
When I was traveling weekly out of Chicago, I always made sure to bring my Southwest credit card, just in case. Southwest sucks, but it gets you home.
My sister was recently stranded in DFW trying to make it to SFO when American Airlines canceled her flight. They were happy to substitute another flight... to Sacramento.
So the two-hour round trip to pick her up from SFO turned into an eight-hour round trip to Sacramento. I'm amazed this was considered an acceptable substitute. Would have been nice if American was willing to get you home in the event of canceled flights.
(We could see available seats on flights from DFW to SFO at that time from Delta and Alaska. But those seats were "not available to American rebooking agents". It seems like that should have been American's problem, not ours.)
Footnote: even though my sister had to be rebooked onto the American flight to Sacramento, American didn't bother rerouting her luggage, which they sent to SFO. I guess canceling the flight meant "the plane will still fly, but without passengers".
I realize that this was inconvenient and a big hassle, so I don't want to make light of it, but something seems off with the geography.
- You need to allow for a wider margin of error in predicting travel times, which means leaving earlier than strictly necessary. But leaving early doesn't mean getting back early; you have to wait for the plane to debark.
- This trip was long enough to be more demanding than an electric car could handle, requiring 30 minutes of time spent parked and charging the car.
- More time was wasted waiting for the luggage to show up; we were not informed that it hadn't been sent.
Stuck on the tarmac in the snow and miss the connecting flight (last of the day)? They automatically rebooked me on another airline and I got a notification from the app as soon as I had reception.
3+ SFO bound flights delayed at JFK because of crazy winds at SFO? They proactively encouraged people to rebook, gratis. I rebooked on a flight the next day on nicer equipment, through the app, went into town, grabbed some bagels and had a flight at a nearly ideal time of day.
Regional plane goes tech? They had a red coat out and about keeping everyone informed.
Missed a flight because I misread the departure time? They sold me a same day ticket on the next flight at a hefty discount and I kept the inbound leg.
Southwest has a huge disadvantage and it's not tech: it's the lack of interline agreements. Nearly every other airline (except perhaps Spirit) can rebook you on another carrier when things go sideways. Southwest simply can't. With an interline agreement in place you'd have far fewer people getting stuck with exorbitant last minute fares.
In general though don't fly when you're getting unusual weather. Less than an inch of snow at PDX throws everything into chaos (and Portlanders call it fucking snowpocalypse). A few inches of snow at PWM and they don't even blink.
I should also add that a few years back when my Southwest flight out of SFO got cancelled I was able to book a seat on a flight out of OAK with a minimum of effort. I think I had to pay the difference in fare though. When it works, it works, but the go it alone attitude will only take you so far.
Maybe not 1:1 for what you're describing, but it solution/reason, but does seem like a possible sign that they're investing in proactive tools.
AA live chat said they couldn’t help (other than rebooking 2 days later which would be pointless) but when I called they were able to drop the connection inbound and outbound so I could drive to the hub city airport (cost me like 2 hours each way, nbd).
They fixed it in like 3 minutes on the phone but it seems like they have to do it in a super hacky way because I had to check in at the airport which was no fun with long holiday lines.
Consider: when a flight is delayed for a repair (maintenance delay) does that equal "not enough aircraft"?
Carriers can't staff surplus crews any more than they can sit on spare aircraft, both which are small, very carefully computed quantities.
It is a crew rest requirement delay.
If I’ve had a missed connection en route, I’ll generally land and the app tells me what they’ve already rebooked me onto, but I have a choice of many different alternatives (usually) and can pick among them without cost and without waiting in a call queue.
Delta does this well too. Haven’t heard many good things about American.
It was super convenient even if I was fuming over the multiple hours delay.
The Box ( https://www.amazon.com/Box-Shipping-Container-Smaller-Econom... ) has some interesting things to say about this.
In that book, the ordinary logistical setup is that ships tend to cover individual transit routes, which means that a delay affecting one ship doesn't spread through the system. Malcom McLean tries to set up a system of ships that always sail east instead, and it fails very badly, because delays on each individual leg of the (infinitely long!) route accumulate instead of happening and then fading away.
The planes are scheduled that way, but the people won't stay for the entire plane's cycle.
It was a pain so much I stopped flying them. I’d buy a ticket and have to babysit it so that a flight from noon to 6pm didn’t morph over several changes into a multi stop marathon from 8am to 9pm…..
I see lots of people who are at least quite a bit less likely to use them in the future (and they are still in the middle of trying to fix it).
Meh, everybody always says that. In six months when this is a distant memory… it will be business as usual.
For me (I am affected), this is actually another in a series of recent events that are making me reconsider my preference for SWA. They are no longer a "cheap" airline, routinely more expensive than the other major carriers. Their planes are not nice anymore. I've flown on a few other airlines over the past few years and found their planes to be nicer with more features (like chargers and phone/tablet holders). And now this. The cancellations are one thing, but they totally botched the communication of it, and their practice of delaying flights throughout the day only to cancel half of them after several hours left people stranded.
Will I stop using them? We'll see how they respond, but they may not be my first choice anymore.
But for the 329,925,000 other Americans, many of whom have a long history and belief in Southwest’s reputation for customer service and fair policies? They will have forgotten by next week.
I just laugh at the upset attempts when you go to check in online: “get priority boarding and 2 inches of legroom for only an extra 50% on top of the ticket price.” I really don’t see much evidence that there was actually a race to the bottom. And I certainly won’t blame consumer preferences when I don’t see any options for slightly better service for slightly more money.
Boston to Las Vegas, Orlando, or San Francisco, I’ve got a wide variety of choices, 2-4 carriers flying more than that non-stops per day.
Flying from Des Moines to Presque Isle, Maine, I have only a bunch of 2 and 3 stops on United.
BOS has the "advantage" of serving a fairly large population while also not being big enough to be a real hub for anyone, while being simultaneously big enough to have service from nearly everyone.
Unlike a lot of airports smaller or serving fewer people than BOS (and some of comparable size), you can get from BOS to a whole mess of hubs.
A few select routes (BOS to SFO as noted) are incredibly well-served because of the volume of lucrative business travel between the two and the fact that a whole mess of airlines already serve both airports.
 No, JetBlue doesn't count. Boston is as much a hub for them as CLE was for Continental. I.e. a second class hub at best.
 CLE by comparison only really serves Cleveland. Columbus, Dayton, Cinci, Indy, Pittsburgh and probably a few others from a similar radius BOS draws from all have decent(ish) airports. All of those have basically the same problem as CLE or are worse in some way. I've flown through or into and out of all of them.
Is Southwest the lone primary carrier for many of their airports?
SWA is generally one of the bigger users of any particular airport they use as SWA tends to avoid the "primary tier" hub airports.
SWA examples: Providence or Nashua, not Boston. Houston Hobby--not Intergalactic. Chicago Midway not O'Hare. San Jose rather than San Francisco. etc.
i would imagine that's especially vulnerable to disruption as any delay/issue is magnified throughout the rest of the flights.
SWA can do this bc they operate a single aircraft type (737), have lower opex (they operate closer to spirit than delta internally and they do things like not allowing full GDS access to force leisure travelers to book through their website), and they keep their aircraft around a while. they also have a smaller network than the bigger airlines do, which further lowers opex.
However, SWA isn't truly point to point seeing as how a lot of their traffic flows through Chicago (MDW), Dallas (DAL) and Houston (HOU) and they have huge hangars and service ops out of these locations.
hubs aren't immune to huge cancellation numbers like this. American and United were heavily impacted during the 2021 Winter storm. Had the storm happened during the busiest peak travel season of the year like it did this year, they would have had record cancellations as well.
at the time, then-CEO now-chairman Gary Kelly said:
> "What's unique is the partial failure, it's never happened," he said. "This isn't a drill you can run."
Delta had a similar outage due to a datacenter fire, grounding all domestic flights. Southwest was uniquely slow in taking days to start up again. And if the way my American Airlines ticket switched my birthdate to January 1st, 2000 is any indication, many airlines still need to modernize.
Most of the travel industry runs on old software that would horrify a lot of people here, especially those who've never worked for a large, 30+ year old company. When I used to interview a lot of people I made it a point to mention some of the more "interesting" aspects so they'd know what they were getting into.
One example: ever tried to book a flight a year in advance? On a lot (almost all?) of systems you can't, because the underlying date format is "DEC27".
Edit to address a couple comments: logistics are hard and there are plenty of reasons why airlines wouldn't want to support booking that far out. However, the reason you can book a flight 330 days from now but not 360 days from now is almost certainly due to the date format. (I believe the windows used are less than 365 days because it's helpful to be able to have dates in the recent past. I remember seeing documentation for 360, but AA and United seem to be in the 330-340 range on their websites).
Granted, the rollout across airlines is probably glacial
Source: I used to work there
It's not even an ASCII text app, but an EBCDIC one. Or was after EBCDIC was defined as a standard, after SABRE itself launched.
1) Replacing any software for an airline carries huge risk. They are barely operating ok with the software they have and holding it together with duct tape. Even something you might regard as ancillary, like a baggage handling software system, or flight catering software system, if it goes down, has the potential to disrupt thousands of planes and hundreds of thousands of passengers for days.
It is so significant an issue (to try to change some software, and just one out of many systems that have to talk to each other) that if an airline ever considers doing this, they may actually stop operations for some number of days while they do it rather than risk having operations go wrong. There are some rare examples of airlines doing this to try to change their systems.
2) Related to the above, airline management hates to be embarrassed by something that might work but has the potential to go badly wrong. So they are very conservative when it comes to replacing systems that are working, even if it's painful / much less functional than what they might achieve by a change.
Combine these factors (and many others) and it means that sometimes starting a new airline is simpler than trying to fix an old one...
Now there's a truly total rewrite...
Complexity — Fundamentally you’re looking at a logistics software, except unlike packages you’re dealing with people who aside from expected destinations have travel lengths and time-in-air calculated down to the minute. Also unlike a package, a surprise multi-day trip, unexpected multi-leg journey, one day delay is not something passengers (and crew members) will accept or be at all ok with. And if any one thing goes wrong there’s going to be cascading failures down the line— so much that it may break your company’s entire operating workflow (e.g. Southwest) entirely, and no software can overcome that kind of organizational gap.
Airlines - There’s not many commercial passenger airlines left in the US, especially that fly nationwide. Good luck trying to convince one of these giant behemoths to move to a non-battle-tested system for core operations, especially when decades-old industry software and practices around that software exist.
Entrenched - Sabre is entrenched in airlines around the world. They don’t just provide the booking services, they do the flight tracking, the ticket handling, the upgrading, the in-flight upgrades, missed connection handling, the flight scheduling algorithms, the pricing algorithms, the pilot and flight attendant time tracking, ground crew management, even the terminal software at each gate. To replace SABRE, you would physically need to rip out and then replace software around the world. And because agents don’t work from an office usually, but at the airport, you’re going to need to conduct trainings and provide support around the entire service area, which for the largest airlines is the entire world
Scale — A lot of Sabre’s revenue comes from passengers boarded. It depends on the airline, but I believe the average is that each airline pays 10cents/customer boarded with their software (though with increases in passenger volume each year, it may be less now). Because Sabre is so prevalent, and so many flights use them, they can afford such a price. A company servicing just one regional passenger airline would absolutely not be able to compete on price, at least starting out
Also— Sabre’s software itself is actually reliable! As a corporation it is slow clunky and bureaucratic, but the actual functionality it provides is stable, battle-tested, can handle any travel edge case you can think of, and fast and efficient for those who know how to use it, while also good enough at day to day operations that it doesn’t take too much time to train new agents on how to use it for routine tasks.
I think though Southwest's issues are more on their side.
Yeah building a new GDS today is an exercise in insanity, it's a huge complexity nightmare and switching probably impossible. I always wondered if AI could eventually improve things, but the existing GDSs are unlikely to care much to try. It's basically a (tri)monopoly you can never break.
Let's ask the opposite question:
Why do you feel that software necessarily needs to be modernized ?
I'm not sure how well SABRE works but I do know how fast and efficient keystroking through a non-GUI interface can be and I don't know why expert mode interfaces should ever be replaced by unsophisticated mousey-mouse-mouse ones.
At least, I feel confident in that analysis, since this exact same issue happened to Southwest in 2016, before they were using Sabre. Which would point to a chronic organizational failure
Also speaking as a software engineer myself, it's almost never just a software fix that will magically solve everybody else's problems, that always ends up being just wishful thinking
- Annual conferences or conferences that occur every-other year
- Planning family reunions because you need that kind of cat-herding lead time when you have 9 uncles/aunts on just ONE side of the family
- Periods where I have some spare cash I'd like to lock in a getaway with before I spend it or something unexpected like the invasion of the Ukraine drives up fuel costs and overall prices... or a global pandemic hits - would be sweet if I could have rebooked some of my trips for for 1-2 years out when the pandemic hit
- Travel for future medical stuff; at one point for 2-3 years I was taking my mom to the Cleveland Clinic every 4 months for periodic checks and it would have been super nice to be able to just book that stuff way in advance and have it all taken care of
I'd bet quite a few people would appreciate that ability
Major holiday, destination wedding, event known long in advance (e.g. Grandma's 80s does not come as a surprise).
If you can see how it works, it horrifies me even more as a traveller, as from outside it just doesn't work a lot of the time.
Also if you just look at the video, we all know how bad these systems are, but are not able to do anything (starting anything new in the airline industry has too much cost).
6 years old so hopefully something has improved...
As someone who writes some very thorough unit tests... and also have had to have mandatory training... I find "this isn't a drill you can run" to be _very_ wrong.
It would not surprise me that their back-office operations are likewise economized and some things are just not done because "they can never happen."
They're also the "friendly airline", they easily have the most personable and friendly staff. I don't know what they do different, but Southwest employees treat me human and all the rest generally treat me like human trash. It's got to be a company culture thing, maybe connected to Southwest not having a first-class section.
Usually I fly with Southwest whenever possible without thinking twice about it, but this outage and the outage last year are forcing me to reconsider. Better to deal with rude people than to have my flight delayed..
Definitely. Normal American customer service is to treat you like human trash, so obviously Southwest has decided to do this differently and so probably does things like only hiring friendly people, training them to be friendly and positive even in difficult situations, and checking on them somehow to make sure they're doing this and not just faking it for the interview and training. Other airlines obviously don't, but it's not just airlines, it's everywhere in American customer-facing business these days. Rudeness is just a normal part of America culture now.
I have a backpack that has a phone holder on the shoulder strap. When you click your phone in it, the camera is visible. I've had many a situation where someone was about to go full New York on me, but noticed the camera staring at them and toned it down. I've never once been recording.
training them to be friendly and positive even in difficult situations
That's what happened with Dr. Dao in any case. Not long after that shit show, I booked a transcon on American. Turns out it was overbooked, and they were desperate to get people off the plane. The gate agents basically asked how much money it would take to get people to volunteer to take another flight. They got their volunteers, everyone went home happy because American empowered their staff to resolve problems.
With the exception of United I'd say most airlines I've dealt with have been pleasant whether or not I'm flying up front or have status. Yes, even RyanAir. We're in something of a golden age since (with the notable exception of Southwest) American airlines have mostly put their mergers behind them and have mostly shed themselves of CEOs who view employees as adversaries. Take a look at the bad old days of the late 80s through mid 2000s. Smisek. Lorenzo. Parker. Bastards and crooks, all of them. It's difficult to stress just how toxic airline leadership was and how that trickled down for a long time.
United is awful. American isn't much better.
Meh, it doesn't even have to be "never". It just has to be cost multiplied by frequency is less than the cost to prepare.
If they lose $100m every five years due to a system failure, and it would cost $30m/year to plan for those failures, they it's just cheaper to let it happen.
And I don't mean this in a judgmental, Fight Club-car recall speech kind of way. It's just business reality. At some point every business has to decide that the cost of planning for something is higher than the cost of letting it happen.
Sometimes businesses end up on the wrong side of that bet. They see only the costs but not the benefits of preparedness (by the time it fails, there will probably be a different CEO in charge) and make a bad call.
The airline industry feels like one where each year it's a different carrier who has some catastrophic scheduling failure. Today, everyone says they're never flying Southwest again. But if you fly semi-regularly then it won't take very long before you don't have any airlines left to fly on.
For people who weren't affected, I doubt very many are even going to remember this. Personally, I remember that this kind of thing has happened recently with other carriers but I couldn't even tell you who.
And people who were affected can mostly be bought off if you need to. Some vouchers & hotel reimbursement and it's just the cost of doing business.
Plus, the airline industry has proven over and over that people are willing to put up with a lot when you have the cheapest prices.
It's different from an industry that's built on reputation and trust. Like, a password manager, the only real thing you're selling is your reputation. Losing trust is a real existential threat. Security costs need to be in the bucket of either "yes, we will do it" or "it's so expensive that if we do it then we don't have a business anyway, so we'll skip it and pray."
I think reputation impacts in this industry from anything other than crashes don't hold much staying power.
I'm actually quite tempted to buy the SWA dip...
Southwest isn't a particularly budget airline compared to modern budget carriers like spirit and ryanair that haven't copied the open boarding policy. I suspect the opportunity to upsell seats / luggage and have distinct classes outweighs the turnaround time costs of assigned seating.
A fortune, they only just finished an 8-year migration to Amadeus
Thorough unit and integration tests include failure modes. Mine include things like "what happens if the OS reports that the storage was unmounted during read/write" (because that was a failure often seen in production with some flaky SAN devices) and "what happens if the server stops responding" (because networks are generally unreliable) and "what happens if invalid (random) data is given" because data corruption is a frequent occurrence for similar reasons.
> Perhaps you have a false sense of security about what you’ve really been testing?
Perhaps. On the other hand I've seen a _lot_ of other developers test only the happy path and call it a day then spend days/weeks/months debugging failures.
As a IT-VP/CIO, the statement of "there's no way to test it" is not acceptable.
When we first started doing it the datacenter would be chosen months in advance so that teams would have plenty of time to ensure their services can run without that specific datacenter.
When I left this year, the datacenter would be randomly chosen on the same day it would be cut off.
You can't really do hot spares for people without time to gear/train up and the weather event is so widespread I doubt there's enough spare SWA human capacity across the whole nation even if you had C130s on standby everywhere ready to take workers where they're needed most. From a national security perspective, situations like this is why the Marines exist right? Ensure a rapid response while the rest of the machine gets moving. I feel bad for everyone involved, those affected and those trying to figure out a solution.
Management could consider how pay and performance programs can help ensure business continuity.
HR and MBA xls wizards don't understand how to manage for business longevity.
It seems you're discounting just how complex HR can be, especially in the face of exigent circumstances. No amount of bonuses will immediately staff up an entire terminal in the face of a massive snowstorm.
That is right and thus I would engage line management to figure out business continuity.
> in the face of a massive snowstorm.
It is winter. The storm was tough but not exceptional for the season of winter. Denver did not report tremendous amounts of snow.
Few if any MBAs can get on the ramp and look a line employee in the eye and lend a hand. The wfh keyboard warriors don't know blue collar and therefore are unable to figure this out. MBAs can figure out ways to game their pay. HR can recommend team building 'fun' and non-revenue standby seats, which have minimal value to those employees flying with school age children. Shareholders should demand senior management unemployment applications.
Sure seems like this was an exceptional storm. Widespread, deep cold reaching into Mexico, snow falling across much of the U.S., Buffalo hit with the most snow in 20 years, records set multiple locations.
I wonder if board of directors will compare performance with other airlines.
Source: Am a local who's been headhunted by them a few times but never got beyond the initial discussion with the headhunter for this reason.
If you have a black swan event like this and you listened to your solutions architect you will have a disaster recovery plan or even better a multi region setup. Worst case you have highly paid support engineers at the cloud providers who will do everything they can to get you back online.
That's not the article I hoped to find however. I seem to remember there was another article where they hired a investigator/consultant to figure out the price to migrate to the cloud and ensure "this never happens again."
My recollection of that was: their scheduling/ops team is also in the same city (Atlanta GA) as this datacenter, and that teams work was brought to a halt by the datacenter outage. The investigator concluded that Delta would need redundant copies of the ops team or the whole effort of moving the software to the cloud would just be at risk to something happening to the human team all in the same city. That would obviously cost to much money, so Delta decided to skip it.
Amadeus are eating them up, because their airline backend system is a shared multi-tenant setup, built on commodity hardware. Their distribution system used to be mainframes, but they managed to migrate away in the 2010s.
Sabre is still alive, but only in North America, and Amadeus is slowly chipping away (WN, AC..)
Anyway, doesn't even the best testing only catch 40% of bugs or thereabouts? It's not a silver bullet.
Pull the backup tapes, hand those to DR team, provide bare metal, and start the stopwatch. I participated in this in 1990s across the Mississippi.
(Look forward, reason backward).
I think you've mistaken this for something immediately increases quarterly gains with no regard to long-term strategy.
And you can guess what their managers' response typically is: "We need to focus on OKRs and QBRs and KPIs right now... maybe next quarter"
I'm fully convinced that achieving 'manager status' is directly correlated to cowardice. Companies need top-down decision-making, but those decision-makers need to spend more time on the front line.
This is not rewarded so it doesn't happen. Managers are rewarded for line goes up so they only focus on line goes up. If line ever doesn't go up it costs them money (advancement, compensation) even if there's little they could have done to make line go up.
See any gains here?
It used to be that my first priority would be to go into the terminal and try to talk to somebody. I figured they were the experts. From what I've read, the staff use an antiquated system that takes you from one airport to another, then they can try to get you from that city to where you want to go. That's why there's so much tapping of keys and why it takes so long.
It's better to present them with a route that you've found on Google Flights or similar. The Southwest first flight out was supposed to be yesterday evening, the day after Christmas. In our case, the only thing we could find before Christmas was getting us from SJC to Seattle via Phoenix on Alaska. We ended up renting a car and driving home to Portland. Things got bad around Eugene - I stopped counting after 40 wrecked cars and semis - and got worse as you got closer to Portland.
Market forces can correct here. Vote with your wallet.
The unspoken part you have to hear there is "... within the economic model of the airline business".
Business continuity gets exponentially more expensive as you chase the blackest of swans: the sheer volume of plan development and maintenance, developing exercises, table-top vs. walkthrough vs. simulation, assumptions about how many different uncorrelated failures you're prepared for deal with at once etc.
I've no doubt you could run an airline to be as resilient as (say) USAF Air Mobility Command, but no-one could afford the tickets.
The thought was that it needs to be something that isn’t believable to a non-technical user seeing it on their computer screen. It turns out that this is not necessarily useful. I listened to a guy talking about some issues with a record; he says “1871? What’s up with that?” And then just moved on as if “well it came out of the computer, must be right” or something.
I think that databases need to have the concept of NaN for dates and time stamps, except that this should be configurable to something like a poop emoji or something like ⁉🆘. It has to be something where your grandma would look at it and confidently say “your computer is broken”
How about just NULL?
In some situations, you are trading one known point of failure for a million unknown ones. Among other problems :)
Default date types, with some columns being nullable, work just fine for my project. I wouldn't want them to be more complicated and force me to consider additional cases, especially if those cases aren't language compatible.
Off topic, but this reminded me of:
Hello, I'm Mr. Null. My Name Makes Me Invisible to Computers
They only have one geo-located data-centre?
The difference between what's true, what some people will buy, and what you can get away with saying is gross, y'all.
Netflix and airlines are so different as to make this comparison laughable. The cost of setup and consequence of problems actually being found (ie Federal Regulations) that are not addressable (it's not like SWA didn't know about some of the eventualities), easily outclasses the need for testing every combination of situations. Kong doesn't run anything that has to do with weather turning jet fuel into sludge or 12x pre-staffing in case of massive computer failures along with assessing the possible legal consequences from each locale. The hubris of pretending that physical services on a national scale, is as deterministic as a complex automated system, is unsurprising from a certain crowd, I guess.
Investment capitalism is really a garbage system when it comes to building and maintaining basic infrasctructure like transportation, electricity grids, roads and so on. China has demonstrated that convincingly over the past two decades, hasn't it?
When characterized as something that can't be done instead of something they don't know how to do, you know exactly where they are on the Dunning–Kruger curve.