3 Links I Love: Delta’s Tech Mess, Phil Bakes Dies

Delta, Links I Love

This week’s featured link:
Chief Operating Officer gives Delta operations updateDelta News Hub
And here’s what Delta said happened in its own unbelievable IT failure. Power problems, backups failed, blah, blah, blah. I had a lot of reporters ask me this week if I thought this would permanently damage Delta. No, not when it’s just one failure. But I still just can’t understand how an airline, which is so dependent upon technology, can allow things like this to happen. It’s just mind-boggling.

Links I Love

Two for the road:
Delta outage a hard hit to reliable brand: ColumnUSA Today
While we’re on the topic, I thought I’d include this one. I couldn’t agree more, and I’ve written here about how Delta’s biggest enemy is going to be its own cockiness. If this outage knocks Delta down a peg or two, then it might be the best thing to happen to the airline.

Phil Bakes, who led Eastern Airlines and Continental, dies at 70Miami Herald
Those who lived through the Lorenzo years at Continental and Eastern as well as those who read Hard Landing (which should be everyone), will recognize the name Phil Bakes. He just died at age 70. I always had a vision of him as a tragic figure who meant well but never was able to escape the shadow of Frank Lorenzo… at least until he left the industry. (I’ve spoken with others who feel differently.)

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16 comments on “3 Links I Love: Delta’s Tech Mess, Phil Bakes Dies

  1. I bet someone at American Airlines is laughing their ass off about how Delta terminated their interline agreement because their network was so much more reliable.

  2. Cranky Flier | 3 Links I Love: Delta’s Tech Mess, Phil Bakes DiesYes, I read Hard Landing years ago. What I learned was “Suspicions Confirmed!” about the Airline upper management in those turbulent days. It seems that Herb Kelleher was one of the very few if not the only one who came out unscathed. Crandall, Lorenzo and Borman were on the hot seat big time then. Oh, and I have worked for Crandall and Herbie.

    “All Day Ray”

  3. I doubt that DL will lose much business flyer business over this. It’s not like SW and their outdated IT infrastructure. But, I bet the message trickle down from the top that this type of failure cannot happen again.

    Knocking down DL a peg or two might be good for them. They aren’t too big to fail and this proves that point.

    PS: they better be on time next Tues on my same day turn to MIA. :)

  4. Thankfully I wasn’t flying this week and avoided the DL snafu. While it’s the week to beat on Delta my friends who were flying them post tech mess said things were mostly back to normal within 24-48 hours. That’s whats truly amazing to me. Living in a hub city I expected things would be chaos through the weekend when a full reset could materialize and it seems they turned it around already. All in all I think this should be a lesson to DL to not get too cocky, make sure your tech redundancies work, and know there is always more room for improvement.

  5. The US airline industry is back to normal.

    DL today is back at the bottom of the list of cancellations among the big 4.

    Private flight tracking services show that DL mainline cancelled about 2000 flights on its own metal over the past 30 days, WN cxld about 3000 due in part to its own IT issues while AA cxld 1300 and UA half that amount without IT issues. AA and WN had more delays over the past 30 days than DL.

    The NE had a nasty weather day yesterday and Chicago is getting hit with summer thunderstorms today.

    Business as usual indeed

  6. It’s a good thing that schadenfreude doesn’t cause airline computers to crash, or man, Delta would be toast…

      1. Thank you.

        I hope you’ve recovered from your Tour of California earlier in the week. I always enjoy your stories and commentaries. Best wishes.


  7. What amazes me is that airlines still run their own data centers.

    I could see renting their own cages in an existing managed data center, but things like managing connectivity, power, etc are commodities that should be outsourced to dedicated data center providers.

    I’m not sure how their usage spikes work, but I’d almost guess that they’re pretty variable, and would lend themselves well to being virtualized and put up into AWS or the like.

      1. I got that… But I’m sure mainframes can be hosted in data centers hosted provided by other companies.

        I was also thinking about AWS if an airline wanted to re-architect away from mainframes and central points of failure.

  8. Got to fly DL on this past Tuesday. My original flight was cancelled, but I was rerouted via SEA instead of SLC and got where I needed to go about 3 hours later than originally scheduled. All in all, it wasn’t too bad for me. Delta seemed to do the best they could do for their customers.

  9. On Tuesday night DL still was a disaster. Couldn’t print boarding passes at ABQ, gate agent walked everyone on board and basically gave out seats on a whim. At SEA redeyes Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) were delayed up to 5 hours. Flights to MSP and ATL left after 3 am and they still closed the sky lounge at 12:30.

  10. I’m not sure I agree with the opinion the Delta needs to be knocked down a peg or two. Nor do I agree with Cranky that “just can’t understand how an airline so dependent on technology can allow things like this to happen.”

    The fact is the airline has been a role model for reinventing itself as an “outside of the box” legacy carrier. It has led the efforts to not only source and develop its own fuel program less dependent on outside sources, but continues to lead the way in everything the customer sees, feels and touches onboard the aircraft. For instance, Delta lead the way in free onboard snacks at a time when others were still cutting and decided early on that if they took care of the employees, the employees would take care of the customer. Novel idea now others are following. Delta has also invested millions of dollars in the customer experience both on and off the aircraft at a level that many legacy carriers have not. Delta/Northwest merger was textbook in how to manage a merger vs other merger disasters that still have not been completed.

    I’m not saying Delta is perfect. Like any business, things happen. As we all know technology is run by….humans….and mistakes happen (hey Cranky maybe that’s an explanation for you).

    Bottom line, our society has high expectations but many people are either unwilling to pay for them, have an unrealistic perception of entitlement, or have some idealistic idea of the way things should work. Most of us go to work everyday and do the best we can as I’m sure those in charge of technology at Delta did the week everything went to shit. But things happen.

    Like anyone who is successful or in the public eye, the typical human reaction is to want to see those who are successful fail and latch on to anything that could be seen as a “less than”. We see it all the time. That seems to be the human condition. Jealousy? Envy? Inferiority complex? Maybe.

    Bottom line…give Delta a break. Everybody is just trying to do the best they can.

    (For the record I do not work for Delta nor did anyone pay me to write this)

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