I’ve flown for the last 20 years but never before had I experienced an airlines computer glitch like the one that happened Tuesday.
For many people in the travel industry, the American Airlines computer glitch made headlines. For me, it made for a chaotic travel experience I won’t forget.
As I boarded my flight from Sacramento to Dallas at 8 am this morning, I had no idea what I was about to happen after the plane touched down in Dallas.
American Airlines computer glitch strands thousands
The flight to Dallas was relatively smooth.
After landing in Dallas, we taxied to the terminal only to stop behind a line of planes. The captain informed us that the American Airlines computer system, which controlled routing planes on the ground and reservations, was down.
Earliest estimate that we would arrive at a gate? 1 hour. Many passengers groaned but there wasn’t much we could do. I used the time to read a book as the captain updated us every 15 minutes.
With every update, there wasn’t a lot of new information. We were told that the airlines computer glitch was affecting flights all over the country.
After an hour and a half, the flight attendants served us granola bars and water. I checked the American Airlines Twitter feed to get the latest update.
UPDATE: We are now in a system-wide ground delay until 4:00pm CT as we work to resolve this issue. We apologize for any inconvenience.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) April 16, 2013
I showed the update to one of our flight attendants, Peggy. She stated that the system that dealt with departures was different than the ones with arrivals and reservations. She told me I already knew more than she did. The captain assured us that all flights, both arrivals and departures, were affected.
Full gates and failed computer systems meant planes weren’t going anywhere.
With the possibility of being on the runway for hours, I flashed back to my 27 hour flight from Dublin a few months ago.
After 2 hours, buses finally arrived as we gathered our stuff and exited the plane. We were crammed into the buses like sardines as police cars, fire trucks, airport and bus staff, and American Airlines representatives helped with the boarding process.
The police escorted us to Terminal C at Dallas Forth Worth airport. We were finally off the plane but the chaos was just beginning.
American Airlines – chaos, canceled flights, and delays
Once in the airport, we huddled in confusion. AA representatives were there to greet us. As I looked at the board, my flight didn’t even appear as a departure. I wasn’t alone. Representatives told us to check with the gate agents for more information.
The American Airlines computer glitch began around 11 am CST. At 3 pm CST, the airport was chaos. Masses of people lined up at the American Airline counters looking for information.
As I arrived at the counter, I was told my 2:10 pm flight to Pittsburgh was at C14. As I walked to the gate, I heard others talking about canceled flights, morning flights that were still delayed, and passengers being re-routed as they called family and friends to pick them up in different cities.
As I arrived to the gate at 3:15, there it was on the board – American Airlines Pittsburgh flight departure time 8:25 PM.
Every few minutes, gate changes, flight statuses, and information announcements were being made all over the airport.
“Flight XXXX to Tucson is now at gate CXX. Plane is there but the airline crew hasn’t arrived.”
That’s just a sample of the announcements. Numerous flights to cities were canceled. Flights had planes and pilots but no flight attendants. Flights had crews but no planes. Gates for a flight would change. Lines to rebook flights were long.
For nearly three hours, the Pittsburgh flight had the following updates – plane and pilots here but no crew, flight ready to go at 5 but flight attendants won’t arrive until 5:11, flight now scheduled to leave at 6 pm, gate has now been changed from C14 to C21, flight crew from Austin set to arrive at 5:45 pm with flight to Pittsburgh at 6:30. At 5:30, our crew hadn’t even left Austin yet.
At 7:15 pm CST, we were finally air born.
Most American Air flights go through Dallas while hubs in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago also experienced mass delays and chaos.
Thousands and thousands of passengers felt the impact today. American Airlines even received permission from the FAA to ground flights due to the system issues.
My story is one of many affected by the American Airlines computer system failure.
How many times has this happened in the history of airlines? I don’t know. However, I’ve never experienced anything like this.
My thoughts on the American Airlines computer glitch
Like most passengers, I was frustrated but took things in stride. I spent hours in the DFW airport and had no idea what was going on. As travelers, we have the airlines passenger bill of rights. Not sure how that covers a situation like this.
I don’t really know what the the problem was. CNN reported that the reservation system operated by Sabre had no issues. However, American Airlines just couldn’t connect to it. The good news is that none of this seemed to be connected to the Boston bombings.
As someone who has worked in IT for years and experienced computer system glitches and downtimes, I’m not upset at American Airlines. I think they handled this as best they could. Many passengers were frustrated and understandably so.
On my flight, the captain and crew of American Airlines flight 2286 were fantastic. They were helpful, happy to answer questions, served us drinks and a snack, and the captain updated us with information as quickly as he could.
At the desks, airline representatives were stressed but patiently tried to help every passenger. With massive flight delays and cancellations all over the country, many passengers weren’t happy. However, I didn’t have a problem with the way American Airlines handled this.
Have systems ever gone down for this many flights, for this long, across the country? Seems travel and technology don’t always work together perfectly.
As we boarded the plane, I’ve never been so happy to get on a flight. I’ve never seen an airlines computer glitch or system failure like this. I hope I never see it again.
Do you have an air travel horror story? Have you ever experienced airlines computer glitch or system failure? Have you seen a situation where this many flights were grounded due to a technology failure?