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Power outage crashes Delta Airlines’ global flight systems

Thu 11 Aug 2016

Delta Airlines queues

Passengers flying with U.S. carrier Delta Airlines experienced widespread delays and flight cancellations this week after a computer outage wiped out the company’s systems for several hours.

The Atlanta-based airline blamed the outage on a huge power cut which hit its servers at 2:38am ET on Monday. A source with contacts at Delta told The Register that the problem originated with a faulty UPS at the company’s Atlanta data centre. Delta attempted to failover to backup power but the UPS failed, which caused the outage.

The crash affected many Delta services including in-flight status reports, airport information screens, airport systems, its phone lines and website delta.com, as well as the Delta mobile app.

The company did not provide much detail on the extent of the blackout, but did suggest that a ‘back-up system’ was used by airport staff to check in passengers. Local reports from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that Delta passengers had been ‘stuck in winding, hours-long lines’, and described ‘chaos’ as people tried to rearrange their flights.

Delta has promised to waive change fees for its customers who travelled during the disruptions, which can typically cost up to $500 (approx. £400).

Delta Airlines, which owns a majority stake in Virgin Atlantic, operates as many as 54,000 flights every day. The carrier partners with Air France, Alitalia, and KLM. The airline manages its own data and computer systems, after buying them from Travelport in 2014. At the time, Delta stated that the system ran over 180 applications, and provided a ‘data and operational backbone.’

A similar computer error at Southwest Airlines forced the budget carrier to cancel around 2,000 flights in July. Qantas and Virgin Australia have also been hit with system failures. The companies’ Altea reservations platforms were taken down in 2012 by a bug in Linux which did not recognise a leap second that had been added to the world’s clocks.


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