VC10er
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Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:53 pm

As someone who flies United often, I was very effected by the switchover, and it was far from fun to live through. I know a lot has been done to fix the problems and things have certainly improved. But still there are things that United can't do yet, or maybe never will be able to do that the premerger United could do? It still feels like it's not quite a whiz of a system.

My question is to people close to this...is the computer situation all fixed now or is there still more work to be done? And in what areas?

It does seem like all the computer complaints in the press have disappeared and now replaced by the remarkable return to good on-time performance. Or has AA's cancellations and loose seats now replaced UA in the news?
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usairways85
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:01 pm

They are far from fixed. While improvements have been made and there are fewer major issues I still face little annoyances every day.

They just put a new front end on SHARES so it may be easier for the GA's to use but it is still the same back end with existing bugs.
 
azstar
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:07 pm

It isn't so much as the system being fixed, as it is an inferior system.
 
LOWS
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 4:55 pm

When I was flying back to SZG in August, the UA agents in OKC were having an awful time trying to get 60 people rebooked to DEN after the CR7 went tech.

Is there a plan to migrate to a completely new system at some point?
 
VC10er
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:22 pm

Quoting azstar (Reply 2):

So the world's "leading" airline with over 1500 aircraft, 6000 flights a day, largest route network... is stuck with an inferior computer system? Great!

So, are there intentions to address the core "inferior" system? Or will there be just Band-Ads for years to come?
The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
 
azstar
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:43 pm

Here's a couple things I learned over the past couple months. When there is an "irregular operation" like a lengthy delay or flight cancellation, it might take you three flights to get to your destination instead of your original two. Most airline computer systems will allow for that with a few keystrokes. However, UA Shares system will not. If you had two flights originally and now you need three, the agents can't do it. They have to call a "help desk" , wait on line, and they wil fix it so you can get your boarding passes.I was flying Phoenix/Newark/Burlington, Vt. My PHX-EWR flight was two hours late, so they rerouted me PHX-DEN-EWR-BTV. By the time the agent was done, it was 15 minutes. It should have taken 3 minutes, or less.

Another example. Since I'm "Platinum" on UA, I can change flight without paying a fee. I wanted to change to an earlier flight, but it was full, so they waitlisted me and I waited at the gate for a seat. The agent told me that by the time they could give me a seat, the only seat available was emergency exit. That was fine with me, but the agent said that the system will not assign an emergency exit to a standby passenger, and they can't do it manually. They have to switch some other passenger already checked in to the emer exit, then assign their seat to me, then switch us both back to our original seats. So, what should take 30 seconds takes 3 minutes or more. If you have several passengers with the same issue, it can actually delay a flight! Crazy.

[Edited 2012-10-06 10:57:00]
 
coairman
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:01 pm

As a regular and extremely proficient user of shares, the system is much more stabile now versus when the changeover occurred on March 3rd. The system sort of went through a "shock" period when the changeover occurred. Much like when you go through Surgery. Back when the changeover occurred some very irregular and weird things occurred while working with shares. Now shares seems to be operating normally and stabile.

As the PMUA agents become more proficient with shares as every day passes, the customers will notice less service issues and better customer service. It takes time to become proficient.

Just remember, Continental Agents didn't have many problems with shares prior to March 3rd, as indicated by Continental's overall positive customer service reputation. Shares is a whole language of its own that you really can't learn without doing studying, have notes nearby and doing the entries in a repetitive way.

There are some irritating characteristics of shares as mentioned above when rerouting a customer from 2 legs to three legs which require a reissue by a specialist. Another irritating thing is when clearing revenue and non-revenue standbys, the system tends to assign the worst possible seat on the seat map and not assign passengers in the same pnr seats together or as close together as possible.

Overall I think shares is a good and stabile system, but I have been using it a long time. It takes a while to become confident and proficient in shares and that is unfortunately part of the growing pains both the customers and the agents have been experiencing. I feel bad for the PMUA agents who had to learn a whole new system. Basically all of them were like new hire agents even though they had in some cases over 30 years of airline customer service experience.

[Edited 2012-10-06 11:09:55]

[Edited 2012-10-06 11:23:25]

[Edited 2012-10-06 11:57:44]
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Type-Rated
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:19 pm

This may have been asked before, but I never saw this question posed before.

Why did UA switch from Apollo to SHARES in the first place? Since UA was bigger you would think at merger time the majority of the employees would be trained on it.
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coairman
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:31 pm

Quoting type-rated (Reply 7):

I think one of the main reasons for using Shares was because it was much more cost effective and much more superior regarding integrating shares with mobile technologies such as viewing current standby lists, seat maps, upgrade lists, flight information including where the equipment is coming from and amenities on your mobile device. Just check out: mobile.united.com and the Apple United App for awesome various information. I use the the App for performing my job duties, providing good customer service when I don't have shares available to use.

[Edited 2012-10-06 11:32:30]

[Edited 2012-10-06 11:38:33]

[Edited 2012-10-06 12:30:59]
The views I express are of my own, and not the company I work for.
 
azstar
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:45 pm

Quoting type-rated (Reply 7):
Why did UA switch from Apollo to SHARES in the first place? Since UA was bigger you would think at merger time the majority of the employees would be trained on it.

I heard the reason for the change was that CO owned Shares. UA did not own Apollo (the previous system) so, as
stated in previous post, it was much more cost effective to switch to Shares.

[Edited 2012-10-06 11:45:58]
 
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kgaiflyer
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:54 pm

Quoting azstar (Reply 5):
I wanted to change to an earlier flight, but it was full, so they wait-listed me and I waited at the gate for a seat. The agent told me that by the time they could give me a seat, the only seat available was emergency exit. That was fine with me, but the agent said that the system will not assign an emergency exit to a standby passenger, and they can't do it manually. They have to switch some other passenger already checked in to the emer exit, then assign their seat to me, then switch us both back to our original seats. So, what should take 30 seconds takes 3 minutes or more. If you have several passengers with the same issue, it can actually delay a flight! Crazy.
Quoting azstar (Reply 5):
I learned over the past couple months. When there is an "irregular operation" like a lengthy delay or flight cancellation, it might take you three flights to get to your destination instead of your original two. Most airline computer systems will allow for that with a few keystrokes. However, UA Shares system will not. If you had two flights originally and now you need three, the agents can't do it. They have to call a "help desk" , wait on line, and they wil fix it so you can get your boarding passes.I was flying Phoenix/Newark/Burlington, Vt. My PHX-EWR flight was two hours late, so they rerouted me PHX-DEN-EWR-BTV. By the time the agent was done, it was 15 minutes. It should have taken 3 minutes, or less.
Quoting VC10er (Reply 4):
So the world's "leading" airline with over 1500 aircraft, 6000 flights a day, largest route network... is stuck with an inferior computer system?

From the above description of service characteristics, it sure looks that way (at least to another 1-K who flies other airlines).
 
United1
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:13 pm

Quoting azstar (Reply 9):
I heard the reason for the change was that CO owned Shares. UA did not own Apollo (the previous system) so, as
stated in previous post, it was much more cost effective to switch to Shares.

CO used to own SHARES, UA used to own Apollo (they created it in 1971 and spun it off in 1992)... HP owns SHARES currently. Supposedly switching to SHARES saves UA 10's of million of dollars a year vs switching the airline to Apollo. I think a few years after the dust settles on the merger you will see UA switch to an entirely different, and modern, reservation system.

Quoting kgaiflyer (Reply 10):
From the above description of service characteristics, it sure looks that way (at least to another 1-K who flies other airlines).

Allot of those issues should be taken care of by the overlay program that UA started pushing out on the 1st of October. Eventually it should function allot like UAs former FasrAir/FastRes overlay on Apollo which will make the GA/CS jobs much much easier and faster.
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nws2002
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:52 pm

Quoting LOWS (Reply 3):
Is there a plan to migrate to a completely new system at some point?

No current plan to move to a new res system.

Quoting type-rated (Reply 7):
Why did UA switch from Apollo to SHARES in the first place? Since UA was bigger you would think at merger time the majority of the employees would be trained on it.

The big factor was money, since sCO retained certain rights to SHARES after the EDS selloff, but the sCO way of doing things was also more flexible and did more work on modern servers. sUA did almost everything inside Apollo on the mainframe, while sCO did lots on modern server hardware that then batched to SHARES. This allowed sCO to develop mobile applications and website features in house, while sUA would have needed to pay Apollo to develop the same features. The big drawback of the move to SHARES for gate agents and airport staff was the loss of FastAir and the fact the reservations must now match tickets with a PNR sync. At first everyone at the airport was using the green screen interface for SHARES but I've heard they are rolling out a new GUI now

I have heard so many complaints about the move to SHARES but honestly we would have been hearing about other problems if you moved all the sCO staff and reservations to Apollo. Neither system was perfect. In the end there were downsides with both systems and the new UA chose to reduce costs and go with the platform they can develop themselves without a third party.
 
azstar
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:57 pm

Quoting United1 (Reply 11):
Allot of those issues should be taken care of by the overlay program that UA started pushing out on the 1st of October. Eventually it should function allot like UAs former FasrAir/FastRes overlay on Apollo which will make the GA/CS jobs much much easier and faster.

I'm sure you're referring to a GUI (Graphic User Interface). However, that still runs over the basic computer system. If the basic system has certain limitations, the GUI will not resolve that. You will not be able to do anything that the computer system itself cannot do.
 
United1
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:17 pm

Quoting azstar (Reply 13):
I'm sure you're referring to a GUI (Graphic User Interface). However, that still runs over the basic computer system. If the basic system has certain limitations, the GUI will not resolve that. You will not be able to do anything that the computer system itself cannot do.

Absolutely agreed.... there are certain things that Apollo would allow the GA/CS agent to do that SHARES simply will not...those particular bits of functionality are gone and wont be coming back. What the new overlay (GUI) will do is speed up the process and make the system easier to use. It's basically laying a windows type interface over a green screen...it is much easier and faster to click a few icons then it is to type a series of commands into SHARES in order to make the system do what you want it to. FasrAir/FastRes worked in the exact same way overlaying Apollo and making it much easier to use.

It will, and has already from what I have been hearing, cut the amount of time that it takes to re-book a customer and some of the other time consuming/help desk calling tasks that the GA/CS agents are required to do every day.

[Edited 2012-10-06 14:18:51]
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nws2002
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:22 pm

Quoting azstar (Reply 13):
I'm sure you're referring to a GUI (Graphic User Interface). However, that still runs over the basic computer system. If the basic system has certain limitations, the GUI will not resolve that. You will not be able to do anything that the computer system itself cannot do.

The issue with SHARES is that it can take several lines of text to complete a single function. With a GUI a single click can type those several lines. A GUI can also allow airport agents to work with more than one reservation at a time by having multiple instances of the text entry running in the background.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:32 pm

Quoting Coairman (Reply 6):
Just remember, Continental Agents didn't have many problems with shares prior to March 3rd, as indicated by Continental's overall positive customer service reputation. Shares is a whole language of its own that you really can't learn without doing studying, have notes nearby and doing the entries in a repetitive way.

There are some irritating characteristics of shares as mentioned above when rerouting a customer from 2 legs to three legs which require a reissue by a specialist. Another irritating thing is when clearing revenue and non-revenue standbys, the system tends to assign the worst possible seat on the seat map and not assign passengers in the same pnr seats together or as close together as possible.

By definition, this is a poorly-designed system. The system should work smoothly. It should involve a minimum number of situations in which users have to "get around" an inscrutable UI or some necessary, yet absent function.

I don't have experience with airline management software, but I do with EMR's, which are also large corporate IT system investments. One of these specialized business program either works smoothly, is intuitive, and is functional... or it isn't.
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robo65
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:48 am

Quoting azstar (Reply 5):

This is not true regarding the seat and not being able to assign to a standby customer. Once you are cleared off the standby list you can be assigned any seat including an exit row seat.

As a couple people have mentioned in this topic, prior to the merger the Continental agents had little or no problem with irregular operations and rerouting customers, even if it was from 2 segments to 3. It is a simple sync entry in shares. Yes there were probably times that a former agent may have had to call the help desk but not often.

Shares was a system that was previously owned by Continental but sold to HP and Comtinental was given very favorable rates with HP. You have to remember that FastAir the United system was only an application that fit over Apollo, so Apollo was still the operating system. Continental also had an application called EZR for airport agents and QuickRes for reservations. Reservations used there system exclusively however the airport EZR system was really never fully developed be ause after 9/11 Continental stopped updating EZR. However their were some agents that were hired during this time frame and were trained on EZR and still used it at the airport. The older agents though continued to use shares and it worked for them.

We're the frustration came in was the UA agents were put through a 3 week training class on shares and then on March 3 the cutover date had to use shares for checkin and were very frustrated because like someone quoted here earlier they were like new hires even though most of them had quite a few years. I can see why some were frustrated however no matter how much the wanted there FastAir back and hated shares the company decided to go with shares and so either just had issues because it was foreign to them, however I did see some people that just didn't want to accept it. The company told them that they were working on a new application system to go over shares. The new system is called checkit and is up and running. The ticket counter agents for the most part are using it however the gates are still mostly using shares. The system is still being tweaked and there are updates coming out frequently.

So in response not only to the highlighted comment above like it or not shares is here to stay and the checkit app is functioning now with updates frequently. For the most part most of the agents are ok with it, however you still have a few that just don't want to except change. That doesn't mean in the future that United will find a different system that is created be someone and switch but for now the agents just have to use shares with checkit.
 
gigneil
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:43 am

Ugh.

Shares is fine. Its basically just a database, the commands you execute are extensible almost in an unlimited fashion - Continental just didn't have a procedure to do everything United did, and the United agents don't always know the native commands to do everything that they need to do.

The new front ends automate 85% of the tasks - vs 0% - and give the sUA agents the ability to do things with one click that they never even learned in SHARES.

There is going to be an all new, integrated front end that should cover 100% of the use cases in 2013. Sure, it speaks the SHARES SOA language, but so what? HP still develops for SHARES, its improving constantly - its the UA deployment of it that needs a little revamping.

United is building an all new centralized datacenter and its likely that, as part of that new infrastructure (god knows you can't even buy what they run SHARES on now), they will improve the underlying platform.

NS
 
BEG2IAH
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 4:56 am

Quoting robo65 (Reply 17):
the UA agents were put through a 3 week training class on shares and then on March 3 the cutover date had to use shares for checkin and were very frustrated because like someone quoted here earlier they were like new hires even though most of them had quite a few years

This is so typical of today's workforce when you make people change the way "they have been doing things since the dinosaurs". This switch sUA agents went through reminded me of a mayhem that my company faced when we switched from MS Office 2003 to Office 2007. Interface was (very) different, but it's not rocket science. People were screwing around during training sessions, which were made available, but kept bitching, and in the end the IT dept. pushed a cheat menu of old 2003 commands. The same logic obviously had to be applied in what gigneil described...

Quoting gigneil (Reply 18):
There is going to be an all new, integrated front end that should cover 100% of the use cases in 2013

This whole "problem" just tells me that sUA agents did not learn what they were supposed to. sUA agents were not learning (did they really want to or was it so hard?) and new UA gave in and created a dumbed down interface.
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cosyr
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:10 am

As someone who works at a bank, We have 3 levels of GUI's that mask the all powerful HOGAN, that many banks use. We have a new system on the way, which is supposed to combine everything using HOGAN in the background, but it better be good, as the previous systems have been around nearly 20 years.

I just cannot imagine the intricacies of trying to design and replace these systems. If it works, don't mess with it.
 
United1
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:30 am

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 19):
his whole "problem" just tells me that sUA agents did not learn what they were supposed to. sUA agents were not learning (did they really want to or was it so hard?) and new UA gave in and created a dumbed down interface.

I'd say its pretty hard to switch from Windows to DOS....that's basically what they asked the sUA agents to do. UA initially planned on rolling out a GUI called FastSHARES (modeled off UAs FastRes/FastAir which was the GUI that sat ontop of Apollo) however they discovered that they were not going to be able to make it work in time for the cutover. Rather then delay the cutover they trained everyone in SHARES and while SHARES is a very versatile program it's very difficult for an end user to go from point and click back to typing in commands on a green screen.

UA has started to rectify that issue with the new GUI overlay that they rolled out on the 1st of October...IIRC they plan on pushing out new versions of the program every month or two with additional functions as they build twords the new front end.
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kgaiflyer
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:40 pm

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 19):
This whole "problem" just tells me that sUA agents did not learn what they were supposed to. sUA agents were not learning (did they really want to or was it so hard?) and new UA gave in and created a dumbed down interface.
Quoting United1 (Reply 21):
Rather then delay the cutover they trained everyone in SHARES and while SHARES is a very versatile program it's very difficult for an end user to go from point and click back to typing in commands on a green screen.

On the other hand, I remember my first real computer -- a 'Kaypro 1' using CP/M. With no GUI's available at the time, I remember making ten keystrokes just to change drives. In terms of today's technology, that's ridiculous, unless you want to deliberately make useless busywork for workers for no apparent reason -- except that it's good for them -- lose your best personnel, and lose business.

The argument that sUA agents simply don't want to learn a new trick -- for whatever reason -- doesn't hold.
 
VC10er
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:25 pm

United last month has returned to over 80% on-time performance since dropping to last. Can we all attribute this to these fixes?
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quiet1
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:22 pm

I may have the month wrong, but the cut over to SHARES at sUA was rushed because their contract with Apollo was expiring/due for renewal in April. Ideally, sUA would have continued using Apollo until the GUI overlay for SHARES was available, but rather than extend the Apollo contract for another year, they saved money and pushed through the changeover in March. It appears that this month (or last?) the first phase of the SHARES GUI was finally rolled out, with later phases due to automate more SHARES functions.

Another issue for sUA at the March cut over was the difference in philosophies/procedures between sUA and sCO that came to light. Apparently, at sUA with Apollo the gate agents had much more direct control over all aspects of the check-in/close-out process, whereas at sCO headquarters managed some of the "final hour" functions. While sUA agents were used to just doing certain things, they now had to send them to Houston and/or wait for them to be handled. A similar philosophy/procedure culture difference existed in reservations offices. e.g. Apollo would automatically ticket PNRs almost immediately, whereas SHARES queues them up to some backroom office where they usually are processed at some later time unless the res agent elevates a request to a supervisor or help desk on an individual PNR basis. Lots of little differences exist that each on their own don't sound like much, but when all added up, required not only a paradigm shift for sUA CSRs/RSRs but also patience from the frequent fliers who were accustomed to having things done in a certain way and in a certain time frame.

IMHO, the main shortcoming of using SHARES for the combined new UA is that it was designed, and worked well for, a much smaller sCO operation. e.g. Just the fact that sCO only had two hubs (IAH, EWR) -- okay 2.5 hubs if you count CLE -- that fact made rebooking irrops much simpler than at UA with multiple hubs with many more re-routing options.
 
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beachbum1970
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:49 pm

Quoting United1 (Reply 21):
UA has started to rectify that issue with the new GUI overlay that they rolled out on the 1st of October...IIRC they plan on pushing out new versions of the program every month or two with additional functions as they build twords the new front end.


Does anyone on the sCO side know why this wasn't done years ago to SHARES, to help the CO agents work more quickly and efficiently? You would think CO would have updated SHARES throughout the years to make it an easier system for their employees to use. Did CO employees ever ask the company to develop an easier to use GUI overlay, like FastAir or FastRes?
 
BEG2IAH
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:15 pm

Quoting kgaiflyer (Reply 22):
The argument that sUA agents simply don't want to learn a new trick -- for whatever reason -- doesn't hold.

They failed miserably at using SHARES and waited for an easier solution instead of exerting some effort. They either couldn't learn (ability constraint) or didn't want to learn (willingness constraint). Writing code doesn't necessarily mean you go to DOS. When you want to fix things in html you need to dig through code. There are other exaples, Matlab, Stata, eViews, SAS... all involve some coding although they are all very capable and far from DOS.
Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.
 
azstar
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:15 pm

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 26):
They failed miserably at using SHARES and waited for an easier solution instead of exerting some effort. They either couldn't learn (ability constraint) or didn't want to learn (willingness constraint). Writing code doesn't necessarily mean you go to DOS. When you want to fix things in html you need to dig through code. There are other exaples, Matlab, Stata, eViews, SAS... all involve some coding although they are all very capable and far from DOS.

Funny. The person who gave me the information I posted was a 20 + year CO veteran.
 
nws2002
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:39 pm

Quoting beachbum1970 (Reply 25):
Does anyone on the sCO side know why this wasn't done years ago to SHARES, to help the CO agents work more quickly and efficiently? You would think CO would have updated SHARES throughout the years to make it an easier system for their employees to use. Did CO employees ever ask the company to develop an easier to use GUI overlay, like FastAir or FastRes?

The phone agents have always had a GUI for SHARES. The airport staff used to have something, I think it was called EZ-R. However, the airport GUI was not very useful and most used native SHARES and eventually EZ-R went away.
 
airtechy
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:35 pm

Did Northwest and Delta have the same res system pre-merger or did they go through the same problems?
 
United1
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:46 pm

Quoting airtechy (Reply 29):
Did Northwest and Delta have the same res system pre-merger or did they go through the same problems?

They were on the same system.
I know the voices in my head aren't real but sometimes their ideas are just awesome!!!
 
FriendlySkies
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:13 am

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 26):
Writing code doesn't necessarily mean you go to DOS. When you want to fix things in html you need to dig through code. There are other exaples, Matlab, Stata, eViews, SAS... all involve some coding although they are all very capable and far from DOS.

This implies that the average sUA gate or reservation agent is adept at quickly picking up a coding language, which likely means they have had formal or informal higher level education in some technical field. I would challenge you to find a large group of agents that demonstrate this.

I'm not saying they are not capable of learning it, but sUA agents were basically asked to become experts at SHARES with a few 2 hr crash courses and little to no practice before the cut-over. As a comparison, I have an engineering degree with multiple years of experience and I am still learning new things I can do in MATLAB, and that is after a semester long class just to learn the basics, not to mention further training in specific applications.

It was a poorly planned, horribly executed situation. You cannot seriously put the blame on the sUA line workers. Learning how to use a complicated coding interface on your own time, with someone available to help at a moment's notice, and a well written reference manual is one thing, but these agents are trying to learn while working flights, trying to meet on-time departures, rebook multiple itineraries in IRROPS, all with angry customers yelling at them most of the day. Forget apples and oranges, you're comparing apples with eggplant.

SHARES is fine if the proper training and interfaces had been developed, but rather than do things right, UA took the cheaper route, and this is where we're at.
 
bnatraveler
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:10 am

RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:10 am

Quoting United1 (Reply 30):
They were on the same system.

They were on the same platform, but it was definitely not the same system.

Both Delta and Northwest were hosted within Worldspan, but the two underlying systems used could not have been any more different.

Northwest used PARS (similar to what TW used). NW developed a GUI interface on top of PARS called AOP that most of their airports began to use in the years preceding the merger.

Delta used Deltamatic, which was not strictly a PARS derivative. DL has a quasi-GUI interface that they use called Cornerstone that still requires the agent to do most of their work using the text screen in cryptic commands.

When the NW data was moved over to the DL system and the former NW agents had to start using Cornerstone it was a major step backwards for them and it created some strife. The things that were automated in AOP, the agents then had to do manually in Cornerstone. There was a period of time for about 3-4 months where it was difficult on the NW side, however they got over it.

Delta is now rolling out a new version of the GUI called SNAPP that is beginning to integrate the components of many of the positives of AOP into the new DL interface.

Similar to the CO/UA situation, DL's system was a step backwards for NW but it was all about training and integration costs. In the beginning of the merger, the plan was to use PARS and not Deltamatic, but once they dug into the training costs and what they would need to do to integrate all of the systems that were integrated into Deltamatic (largely through something called DNS http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/Projects-Management/Deltas-Last-Stand/ - the Delta Nervous System), it was decided to stick with Deltamatic. The NW loyalty system was retained and that was a challenge for a while as it wasn't truly integrated with Deltamatic the way that it was with PARS until the last few years.

That all being said, the DL/NW IT integration was not a cakewalk but it was much more seamless than the CO/UA system change. Many folks said that DL/NW were already on the same system and that it why it was easier, but that was not factually true.
 
BEG2IAH
Posts: 854
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:54 am

Quoting FriendlySkies (Reply 31):
This implies that the average sUA gate or reservation agent is adept at quickly picking up a coding language, which likely means they have had formal or informal higher level education in some technical field. I would challenge you to find a large group of agents that demonstrate this.

sCO agents apparently do it on a daily basis, so I don't understand why sUA agents cannot. Didn't someone mention 2-3 week training sUA agents went through? I doubt it was a 2-hour thing.

Quoting FriendlySkies (Reply 31):
Forget apples and oranges, you're comparing apples with eggplant.

If I'm comparing apples and eggplant, then either sCO agents should get a raise for being able to mess around with SHARES code or sUA agents should get fired because one group could get it while the other couldn't. Hard to compare these two groups, I agree.

Quoting azstar (Reply 27):
Funny. The person who gave me the information I posted was a 20 + year CO veteran.

And he is using SHARES, right? Was he waiting for 20 years to get an easier solution? I doubt it.
Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.
 
airtechy
Posts: 550
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 7:35 am

RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 am

Quoting BNAtraveler (Reply 32):

They were on the same platform, but it was definitely not the same system.

Both Delta and Northwest were hosted within Worldspan, but the two underlying systems used could not have been any more different.

Thanks for the info. Quite interesting!
 
FriendlySkies
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Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:57 pm

RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:32 am

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 33):
sCO agents apparently do it on a daily basis, so I don't understand why sUA agents cannot. Didn't someone mention 2-3 week training sUA agents went through? I doubt it was a 2-hour thing.

Yes, and those sCO agents were trained on it when they were hired, not on the job after using a different system for 20+ years.

Like I said, I'm not arguing that the sUA agents are not capable, I'm pointing out that comparing their level or capability to sCO is not fair, because the circumstances under which they are learning are drastically different. As someone else pointed out, it's not just the tool either, it's also trying to learn all the new processes on top of it.

Simply put, the merged airline did not put in place the proper planning or preparation for the cut-over, and grossly underestimated the difficulties the front line staff would have (let alone the technical glitches). They should have sucked it up, paid to use Apollo another year, and done the cut-over right.
 
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kgaiflyer
Posts: 2589
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RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:32 am

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 26):
Quoting kgaiflyer (Reply 22):The argument that sUA agents simply don't want to learn a new trick -- for whatever reason -- doesn't hold.


They failed miserably at using SHARES and waited for an easier solution instead of exerting some effort. They either couldn't learn (ability constraint) or didn't want to learn (willingness constraint). Writing code doesn't necessarily mean you go to DOS. When you want to fix things in html you need to dig through code. There are other exaples, Matlab, Stata, eViews, SAS... all involve some coding although they are all very capable and far from DOS.

Literally, you are saying sUA gate agents are failures because they cannot write / rewrite code.

Is that a correct assessment of what you are saying?
 
quiet1
Posts: 283
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:39 am

RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:41 am

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 33):
Didn't someone mention 2-3 week training sUA agents went through? I doubt it was a 2-hour thing.

I don't think I've ever heard/read that the sUA agents went through 2-3 weeks of training. Where did you see/hear that?
 
eaglepower83
Posts: 357
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:54 pm

RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:06 pm

The SHARES boosters can defend this terrible system all you want....but as a long time customer I will tell you I do not give a darn.
As a 7 year frequent flyer, I have never been inconvenienced more by a computer system.
Yes the sUA agents were struggling, but always tried to be helpful.
Nevertheless, I've been bitten several times by inherent shortcomings in this SHARES system.

- Account miles now take 1 week or more to post. sUA system used to post miles in 72hrs or less.

- In Irrops, if you need to "protect book" another flight, whichever flight you miss, SHARES would cancel and delete all my other tickets in the itinerary. Which then requires to call customer support to rebook your return trips, and hope to heaven you have your PNR code written down/memorized, in order to prove to the phone agent you actually had an itinerary.

- The SHARES system likes to randomly lose your seat assignments sometimes.

- The SHARES system horribly handles standby and Premier upgrades. Most of the time, an agent has to either force you on the list, or force your upgrade. And in the RARE occasion the system upgrades you, it hardly happens at the appropriate time window.

- SHARES' email/phone notifications, on a few instances, likes to call and tell me that my flight will be late or cancelled....sometimes while "en route" on my new or protected flight. Hey, thanks for the head's up!

- Late flights due to pilots not getting their paperwork in a timely manner due to computer hickups.

Flying United has because so DRAMATIC........(90% of my flying is personal/pleasure) that with my limited time and funds, I don't have the trust or patience to fly United anymore. Nor will I give any more money to this HACK management team.

I moved to AA this summer and it's been DRAMA FREE, even with the bankruptcy and angry pilots. It's refreshing; like United used to be 2 years ago.

Regards,
 
BEG2IAH
Posts: 854
Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2004 3:42 pm

RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:50 pm

Quoting FriendlySkies (Reply 35):
Like I said, I'm not arguing that the sUA agents are not capable, I'm pointing out that comparing their level or capability to sCO is not fair, because the circumstances under which they are learning are drastically different. As someone else pointed out, it's not just the tool either, it's also trying to learn all the new processes on top of it.

That's a fair statement. They were undertrained, but definitely it's not impossible to learn the new system as some posters implicitly suggested.

Quoting kgaiflyer (Reply 36):
Literally, you are saying sUA gate agents are failures because they cannot write / rewrite code. Is that a correct assessment of what you are saying?

You can either blame instructors or students. I admit I'm very biased after teaching for 10 years and seeing all kinds of excuses why certain things are "impossible to learn."

Quoting quiet1 (Reply 37):
I don't think I've ever heard/read that the sUA agents went through 2-3 weeks of training. Where did you see/hear that?

Here:

Quoting robo65 (Reply 17):
We're the frustration came in was the UA agents were put through a 3 week training class on shares and then on March 3 the cutover date had to use shares for checkin and were very frustrated because like someone quoted here earlier they were like new hires even though most of them had quite a few years.
Quoting EaglePower83 (Reply 38):
I moved to AA this summer and it's been DRAMA FREE, even with the bankruptcy and angry pilots. It's refreshing; like United used to be 2 years ago.

AA drama free? You should play lottery since you must be a very lucky guy not to face one problem while flying AA so heavily.
Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.
 
777ord
Posts: 679
Joined: Sat May 15, 2010 12:04 pm

RE: Is The UA Computer Switchover 100% Fixed Yet?

Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:37 pm

Yes, practically all airline reservations systems in the US are old, slow and require countless hours of training.... Having used both SABRE with AA, and SHARES with UA/CO. They both have their issues and pro/cons, but like a previous poster said.... Give it time. Give it time. Believe it or not, there are lots of great things coming out of the merger (either nor, or in the future) and I am really glad to be a part of it.

So thanks to all who support United!!!!