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flyguy89
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Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:22 pm

From the article:

In a letter sent to twelve U.S. airlines on Tuesday, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal asked airline executives to provide lists of IT failures in the past five years and what safeguards and backups are in place

“We are concerned with recent reports indicating that airlines’ IT systems may be susceptible to faltering because of the way they are designed and have been maintained,” the senators wrote in the letter. “As operators in this critical transportation industry, it is your responsibility to ensure that your IT systems are both reliable and resilient.”

The senators said they are also concerned about how airlines are rebooking passengers following a flight cancellation due to an IT problem.

“We believe that, in the event of flight delays and cancellations caused by airlines, air carriers should rebook interested passengers on another airline or on a different mode of transportation without charging consumers additional costs or fees and should provide passengers with full reimbursement and compensation, including for any needed meals and lodging,” the letter said.


http://www.star-telegram.com/news/busin ... 31757.html

My personal reaction is this is more grubby politicking by hucksters trying to score points with the public on something that really doesn't concern them. Thoughts?
 
DLPMMM
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:34 pm

Just a couple of elitist political douche bags trying to portray themselves as "fighting for the little guy". They have been proposing a lot of poppycock together in the Senate lately, none of with has a chance of seeing the light of day...they just want their names in the news for campaign purposes.
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:52 pm

Blumenthal will do anything to get his name in the news. Probably trying to snag Attorney General if Hillary wins.

The airlines have nobody to answer to but their customers and shareholders. I don't buy the "responsibility to the transportation industry" business. Just easy points to score by a bunch of politicians.
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TVNWZ
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:05 pm

So the airlines' IT systems are doing just fine? And we should just leave them alone and accept it? Gotcha.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:07 pm

It is a legitimate area to investigate. Airlines are responsible to keep planes flying and serve their public. They use expensive public infrastructure and the magnitude of failures is unacceptable. A ticked off customer will get nowhere calling up and asking why the extensive IT failures. Senators have the right to answers. I do hope it is a productive investigation.
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enilria
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:07 pm

Some will disagree, but when you start pressuring politicians about Norwegian and the ME3 with their constituents, some wait for the opportunity to reverse the knife. It's a dangerous game.
 
DfwRevolution
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:31 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
It is a legitimate area to investigate. Airlines are responsible to keep planes flying and serve their public. They use expensive public infrastructure and the magnitude of failures is unacceptable. A ticked off customer will get nowhere calling up and asking why the extensive IT failures. Senators have the right to answers. I do hope it is a productive investigation.


What authority does the United States Senate have to investigate the lawful operations of a private business? Running a business poorly is not illegal.

This screams kangaroo court and reflects the slouching standards of our government.
I have a three post per topic limit. You're welcome to have the last word.
 
FlyPNS1
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:46 pm

DfwRevolution wrote:
What authority does the United States Senate have to investigate the lawful operations of a private business? Running a business poorly is not illegal.

This screams kangaroo court and reflects the slouching standards of our government.


Airlines are certified by the federal government to operate. If they are run poorly and that poor operation impacts safety, then the government has authority to investigate. While the most recent DL/WN incidents probably didn't have any safety impact, it is unknown to what degree future IT failures might have or if the airlines have been exposing themselves to security risks.
 
klakzky123
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:48 pm

DfwRevolution wrote:
frmrCapCadet wrote:
It is a legitimate area to investigate. Airlines are responsible to keep planes flying and serve their public. They use expensive public infrastructure and the magnitude of failures is unacceptable. A ticked off customer will get nowhere calling up and asking why the extensive IT failures. Senators have the right to answers. I do hope it is a productive investigation.


What authority does the United States Senate have to investigate the lawful operations of a private business? Running a business poorly is not illegal.

This screams kangaroo court and reflects the slouching standards of our government.


Airlines are still a unique business that affects the entire country. This isn't some small business that had a problem. These are large businesses that have huge downstream impacts when they screw up. When Delta messed up, we had employees stranded across the world. We lose money in these scenarios too just like other companies who had stranded employees or stranded cargo. The economic loss from a system wide failure goes way beyond the airline's revenue losses. In that way, this is functionally a negative externality. There are all kinds of losses associated with airline IT failures but the airline only absorbs a small portion of those losses.

Also Congress can investigate whatever it wants and they can choose to bring in representatives from DL or WN to explain what happened. And frankly, I think that's an important role that Congress should play.
 
FriscoHeavy
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:55 pm

Hey Congress,

Focus on reducing the national debt without taxing me out the ass. This would be a worthwhile cause, not going after an airline for an IT failure. Unlike you (Government), this affects the airline's bottom line, so you bet they will figure out what happened and try to prevent it from happening again.
Whatever
 
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AerolineasAR343
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:21 pm

Why are some members here so protective of airlines? If they wish to operate they should be subject of laws and inquiries, especially when having shortcomings of such notable proportions.

We have a trip report in this very site that chronicles how a member was stranded for 3 days in the WN debacle. You don't think the US Congress should go asking questions to ensure something like that doesn't happen again? Or are we dogmatic (should I say, fanatic) believers about the regulation of business?
 
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Revelation
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:25 pm

I think DL also wants to know WTF is going on since the failure of one router cost them over $50M!
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geologyrocks
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:43 pm

Maybe Congress should worry about fixing Congress but that's what you get when you let career politicians who have never held a real job be in charge.
 
ckfred
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:44 pm

My wife works in IT. She will tell you that as systems become more complex, doing more functions that humans used to do with pen and paper, there will be failures. Often, a failure occurs when upgrades for software and hardware is installed.

Failures of large magnitude happen more frequently than anyone wants to admit. About a year ago, a vendor for the Bank of New York tried to installed a software upgrade. That software had customized features created by a large Silicon Valley software firm that included some corrupted language.

Long story short, BoNY could not price mutual funds its clients for more than a week, creating all sorts of financial, legal, and regulatory ramifications.

IT professionals test and attempt to account for all sorts of problems and failures. Undoubtedly, something no one even can imagine can cause problems.

Heck, now we are seeing car thieves using laptops to unlock car doors and override the encryption that the ignition key has. No one thought that a car thief would use a laptop, since the tools of the trade had been the slim-jim and and other hand tools, meant to by-pass the door lock and the ignition system in the steering column.
 
alfa164
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:53 pm

ckfred wrote:
My wife works in IT. She will tell you that as systems become more complex, doing more functions that humans used to do with pen and paper, there will be failures. Often, a failure occurs when upgrades for software and hardware is installed..


That, and the fact that most large corporations are adding those complex functions to existing systems that may be 30 (or more) years old... it can't be easy to integrate new programs into systems that were designed to use programs that don't even exist anymore.

Before these concerned senators schedule their hearings, perhaps they should be required to sit in front of a computer for a few minutes and prove to us that they even know how to use some relatively simple program (Word? Excel?) themselves. Let's see how qualified they are to probe the IT experts outside their own realm.
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MIflyer12
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:04 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
It is a legitimate area to investigate. Airlines are responsible to keep planes flying and serve their public. They use expensive public infrastructure and the magnitude of failures is unacceptable.


FlyPNS1 wrote:
Airlines are certified by the federal government to operate. If they are run poorly and that poor operation impacts safety, then the government has authority to investigate. While the most recent DL/WN incidents probably didn't have any safety impact, it is unknown to what degree future IT failures might have or if the airlines have been exposing themselves to security risks.


One can see merit in both of those arguments. I wouldn't say they pose a safety risk from hacking - I'd say their non-performance creates a needless public safety risk with hundreds of thousands of people standing around (in cramped public spaces) and having little info as to when they're actually going to travel.

I don't see senators as having any particular expertise in IT matters, however.

Congress is free to regulate the industry - any interstate industry, really. There are also avenues of executive control. The FTC could declare that, contrary to asinine contracts of carriage, schedule is fundamentally part of the ticket purchase contract and must be upheld. The FTC could perhaps demand that any flight cancelled or delayed more than XX minutes have all tickets automatically endorsed to any carrier willing to fly the passenger. The exec branch could also make interlining a tie-breaker in government travel route awards. The ability to re-route has explicit value to the government in assisting travelers be on-time for their duties. How much government business does Southwest do? How quickly do you think Southwest would find interlining religion?
 
flyguy89
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:26 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
It is a legitimate area to investigate. Airlines are responsible to keep planes flying and serve their public. They use expensive public infrastructure and the magnitude of failures is unacceptable. A ticked off customer will get nowhere calling up and asking why the extensive IT failures. Senators have the right to answers. I do hope it is a productive investigation.

I might be more convinced if the airlines themselves weren't interested in maintaining and executing on their IT infrastructure, but there's no evidence to suggest they aren't. And I'd venture to guess that if one looked at the total number of flights delayed from IT issues in the past, say, 20 years against the total number of scheduled flights...we'd find the number to be minuscule, so the public impact of these occasional IT issues does not indicate any sort of widespread harm. The Senators writing these letter probably know next to nothing about IT and, as stated earlier here, it's asinine for them to send out these types of letters when Delta itself already wants to know what went wrong and what they're going to do to prevent it.
 
deltal1011man
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:30 pm

flyguy89 wrote:
From the article:

In a letter sent to twelve U.S. airlines on Tuesday, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal asked airline executives to provide lists of IT failures in the past five years and what safeguards and backups are in place

“We are concerned with recent reports indicating that airlines’ IT systems may be susceptible to faltering because of the way they are designed and have been maintained,” the senators wrote in the letter. “As operators in this critical transportation industry, it is your responsibility to ensure that your IT systems are both reliable and resilient.”

The senators said they are also concerned about how airlines are rebooking passengers following a flight cancellation due to an IT problem.

“We believe that, in the event of flight delays and cancellations caused by airlines, air carriers should rebook interested passengers on another airline or on a different mode of transportation without charging consumers additional costs or fees and should provide passengers with full reimbursement and compensation, including for any needed meals and lodging,” the letter said.


http://www.star-telegram.com/news/busin ... 31757.html

My personal reaction is this is more grubby politicking by hucksters trying to score points with the public on something that really doesn't concern them. Thoughts?

Dear whoever the two stupid senators are....
Do we, the tax payers, get a list of all the government screw ups over the last 5 years and what the government has done to fix them? no? then STFU and worry about cleaning your own glass house before tossing stones at others...........
 
deltal1011man
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:37 pm

enilria wrote:
Some will disagree, but when you start pressuring politicians about Norwegian and the ME3 with their constituents, some wait for the opportunity to reverse the knife. It's a dangerous game.

Alright I'll bite, go ahead and explain that a little more.....


and if you are making the point you are trying to make, you might wanna see what party these two are in and (at least Norwegian issue but also the ME3 to a point) what side the national airline unions stand on. (hint, these two probably are taking the anti-norwegian side, or they don't like union political money.)
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:38 pm

TVNWZ wrote:
So the airlines' IT systems are doing just fine? And we should just leave them alone and accept it? Gotcha.

Don't buy tickets on those airlines then. You wouldn't eat at a restaurant that has bad food, would you?
Look at sweatpants guy. This is a 90 million dollar aircraft, not a Tallahassee strip club
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:39 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
It is a legitimate area to investigate. Airlines are responsible to keep planes flying and serve their public. They use expensive public infrastructure and the magnitude of failures is unacceptable. A ticked off customer will get nowhere calling up and asking why the extensive IT failures. Senators have the right to answers. I do hope it is a productive investigation.

Those airlines also pay to use that public infrastructure. It isn't gifted.
Look at sweatpants guy. This is a 90 million dollar aircraft, not a Tallahassee strip club
 
deltal1011man
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:44 pm

jetblueguy22 wrote:
TVNWZ wrote:
So the airlines' IT systems are doing just fine? And we should just leave them alone and accept it? Gotcha.

Don't buy tickets on those airlines then. You wouldn't eat at a restaurant that has bad food, would you?

exactly this. To many people here think airlines are a public service. They aren't.


but with that in mind, you also have to be a complete idiot if you think an airline like DL is happy about a 100M+ loss because of an IT issue. Much less the owners of the company.....
 
DfwRevolution
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:46 pm

FlyPNS1 wrote:
DfwRevolution wrote:
What authority does the United States Senate have to investigate the lawful operations of a private business? Running a business poorly is not illegal.

This screams kangaroo court and reflects the slouching standards of our government.


Airlines are certified by the federal government to operate..


So what? Being certified by the government does not mandate any disclosure requirements beyond those needed to obtain/maintain those certifications. What government certifications require disclosures about their IT reservation and booking systems?

Imagine if this was the Department of Justice and not Congress. The FBI can't just walk into a business and start seizing files because the business has a government certification to operate. They still need a warrant (lawful cause) to enter the premises of a private business.

FlyPNS1 wrote:
If they are run poorly and that poor operation impacts safety, then the government has authority to investigate. While the most recent DL/WN incidents probably didn't have any safety impact, it is unknown to what degree future IT failures might have or if the airlines have been exposing themselves to security risks.


So the government's authority is based on safety risk, but you acknowledge there was no risk to safety. Sounds like is outside of its authority and working on the basis of speculation?

klakzky123 wrote:
Airlines are still a unique business that affects the entire country. This isn't some small business that had a problem. These are large businesses that have huge downstream impacts when they screw up. When Delta messed up, we had employees stranded across the world. We lose money in these scenarios too just like other companies who had stranded employees or stranded cargo. The economic loss from a system wide failure goes way beyond the airline's revenue losses. In that way, this is functionally a negative externality. There are all kinds of losses associated with airline IT failures but the airline only absorbs a small portion of those losses.


That's an unremarkable observation. Every sector of the economy is unique and can claim some operational distinction that it alone faces.

Delta's terms of service and liability are well disclosed. They are not responsible for absorbing other people's costs and you knew that before you booked with them.

klakzky123 wrote:
Also Congress can investigate whatever it wants and they can choose to bring in representatives from DL or WN to explain what happened. And frankly, I think that's an important role that Congress should play.


Sure, give Congress an infinite leash and see how well that works out for you.

Let's summarize exactly what will happen if hearings take place:
- IT experts will give a watered-down brief to management who don't understand IT details
- Management will give a watered-down version of the watered-down brief to politicians who neither understand IT nor managerial details
- Politicians will grandstand and tell us about SOB stories
- News cycle moves on, and management will solve the problem because investors - not Congress - will hold them accountable if they don't
I have a three post per topic limit. You're welcome to have the last word.
 
ikramerica
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:13 pm

The airlines wanted a limited competition oligopoly market, where they could raise prices and squish out any new competitors that came around. This is the other edge of that sword. The government also wanted an oligopoly that they could regulate and control and mandate. You asked for it...
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mm320cap
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:47 pm

I will never forget after 9/11 how the federal government created a $10 billion stabilization pool to help the airlines weather the unprecedented storm they found themselves in. After watching my airline lose 2 planes (that I had flown various times) several crew, and a huge number of our customers on that horrific day, it seemed obvious to me that WE were exactly who that fund was created to help and support. Except the government denied our application. Twice. We survived in spite of it through many rounds of people losing the jobs and me personally taking a 60% paycut and losing my retirement and stock.

The US Goverment can stuff it.
 
klkla
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:11 pm

I agree that these Senators are basically trying to get publicity for this but they are also rightly focusing attention on a problem that could potentially impact a large number of people if the airlines don't make the investment needed to update their infrastructure. If I was someone that was stranded for two or three days by one of these events and had to also pay for my own food and boarding during this time / and or pay for alternate transportation I would expect the government to hold the airlines responsible.
 
deltal1011man
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:38 am

klkla wrote:
I agree that these Senators are basically trying to get publicity for this but they are also rightly focusing attention on a problem that could potentially impact a large number of people if the airlines don't make the investment needed to update their infrastructure. If I was someone that was stranded for two or three days by one of these events and had to also pay for my own food and boarding during this time / and or pay for alternate transportation I would expect the government to hold the airlines responsible.

no they aren't.

The airlines will fix the problem. Again, DL or WN aren't out trying to take 50-150M losses every few weeks. If the current management can't do it then the BOD will find someone who will. The government needs to keeps its hands away from this issue.

mm320cap wrote:
I will never forget after 9/11 how the federal government created a $10 billion stabilization pool to help the airlines weather the unprecedented storm they found themselves in. After watching my airline lose 2 planes (that I had flown various times) several crew, and a huge number of our customers on that horrific day, it seemed obvious to me that WE were exactly who that fund was created to help and support. Except the government denied our application. Twice. We survived in spite of it through many rounds of people losing the jobs and me personally taking a 60% paycut and losing my retirement and stock.

The US Goverment can stuff it.

This might be one of the best posts I have seen on here in a long time.
ikramerica wrote:
The airlines wanted a limited competition oligopoly market, where they could raise prices and squish out any new competitors that came around. This is the other edge of that sword. The government also wanted an oligopoly that they could regulate and control and mandate. You asked for it...

because IT was perfect till that point.
 
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N62NA
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:43 am

DfwRevolution wrote:
frmrCapCadet wrote:
It is a legitimate area to investigate. Airlines are responsible to keep planes flying and serve their public. They use expensive public infrastructure and the magnitude of failures is unacceptable. A ticked off customer will get nowhere calling up and asking why the extensive IT failures. Senators have the right to answers. I do hope it is a productive investigation.


What authority does the United States Senate have to investigate the lawful operations of a private business? Running a business poorly is not illegal.

This screams kangaroo court and reflects the slouching standards of our government.


The U.S. government of 2016 has the authority to do anything it wants. Unfortunately.
 
coolian2
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:22 am

TVNWZ wrote:
So the airlines' IT systems are doing just fine? And we should just leave them alone and accept it? Gotcha.

The airline system should sit happily on the 80s architecture and blame everything else for their issues.
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IPFreely
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:26 am

Publicity stunt by the Senators for sure, especially Blumenthal who is up for re-election. But the airlines have to respond. That is how the game is played. A 'screw you' response from the airlines could result in Congress pushing through some sort of travellers rights bill similar to what Europe has adopted. And no airline wants that. If Delta had been forced to give cash instead of worthless vouchers to all their passengers affected by last week's meltdown it would have been devastating.
 
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Revelation
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:32 am

coolian2 wrote:
The airline system should sit happily on the 80s architecture and blame everything else for their issues.


80s? If you dig deep enough, you usually find 1960s tech:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transacti ... g_Facility
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALCS_transaction_monitor
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme ... ons_System
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Airli ... ol_Program
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre_%28 ... _system%29

Yep, SABRE was launched in 1957 and went online in 1960 and it still lives on via its various descendents.

Quote from last article:

A formal development arrangement was signed in 1957, and the first experimental system went online in 1960, based on two IBM 7090 mainframes in a new data center located in Briarcliff Manor, New York. The system was a success. Up until this point, it had cost the astonishing sum of $40 million to develop and install (about $350 million in 2000 dollars). The SABRE system by IBM in the 1960s was specified to process a very large number of transactions, such as handling 83,000 daily phone calls.[4] The system took over all booking functions in 1964, at which point the name had changed to the more familiar SABRE.


I had an internship when I was a college student in the 1980s at IBM, and the people in the building next door worked on this "airline stuff", i.e. TPF. A girl I knew had an internship then and was pretty bummed because she was working on 360 assembly language stuff which was old shit even back then. I was writing code in that new fangled programming language invented by some hippies at Bell Labs called "C".
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BobPatterson
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:37 am

DfwRevolution wrote:

What authority does the United States Senate have to investigate the lawful operations of a private business? Running a business poorly is not illegal.


The Constitution gives Congress authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce and to enforce contracts, as well as to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.......

Airlines contract with consumers to provide scheduled services in a reasonably timely manner. When they fail to do so they may/should be penalized for breach of contract (pay compensation to consumers who have been denied the benefits of contract). Europe seems to be far ahead of the USA in this respect.

That said, there is the question as to whether the kind and extent of information being requested by the Senators is reasonable. The list of requested items is lengthy and complex. I would be surprised if all 12 airlines are able to supply all of the requested data, and the thirty day deadline for doing so might be unreasonable. But you have to start somewhere and negotiate over difficulties.

The Federal Government already collects and disseminates information regarding airlines' on-time and baggage-handling performance. Is a deeper look into these areas, or adding a new set of metrics for study, really all that earthshaking?
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MSPNWA
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:47 am

There's no need for more government overreach on the IT part of it. Let the free market handle it. The losses inflicted by such an outage ensure that no airline wants it to happen, and they will keep their systems in good working order. Even then stuff will happen.

What is intriguing is requiring compensation. That I can see these days, especially after the painfully low compensation WN and DL have offered in their meltdowns (if the passengers got it at all, that is). There is no market is the case of compensation, and we're seeing market failures where the passenger is left unprotected by the mega corporation.
 
spacecadet
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:12 am

Sheesh, there's a lot of anti-government sentiment in here. "Congress should fix congress first", etc. Well, this is the kind of thing governments *do*. If congress wants to "fix congress", it should be doing more stuff like this and less stuff like shutting the government down because it doesn't like the current president. This is called "running a country".

Yes, the airlines *are* a public service, in that they're a facet of the transportation infrastructure. The government has spent at *least* hundreds of billions of dollars over the years, and continues to spend billions every year, on building and maintaining the infrastructure that the airlines use. The implicit deal is that in return, the airlines will provide reliable service. And that makes the economy work.

I, personally, am happy to see my government actually doing something, and making sure that the airlines are making proper use of my tax dollars. If an airline can't reliably transport people from point A to point B, then it has no business being allowed to use the infrastructure my tax dollars built. Give that capacity to a better airline - not every airline has had these problems. But all of them should be on notice that they need to do a better job.
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blueflyer
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:45 am

BobPatterson wrote:
That said, there is the question as to whether the kind and extent of information being requested by the Senators is reasonable. The list of requested items is lengthy and complex. I would be surprised if all 12 airlines are able to supply all of the requested data, and the thirty day deadline for doing so might be unreasonable.

The timeframe may be short but I don't think the requests are that unreasonable. Most of the airlines should already have most of the infrastructure and policy documents requested as part of their SOX compliance obligations. A half-decent incidents tracking system will answer the IT failures questions. As for consequences in terms of passengers affected, given that IT issues of interest generally affect a large number of flights, it's a safe bet detailed post incident analyses are either completed and documented or in progress.

DfwRevolution wrote:
What authority does the United States Senate have to investigate the lawful operations of a private business? Running a business poorly is not illegal.

Even though there is no specific law to this issue, the Supreme Court has long held that the Congress has nearly unlimited powers of investigation, which includes compelling the production of documents and appearance at Congressional hearings. "A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information—which not infrequently is true—recourse must be had to others who possess it" (Justice Van Devanter - 1929).

The only limit to these Congressional powers is that it must be "in aid of the legislative function." If the airlines were to push back and refuse to cooperate, Congress could compel them by mentioning they're considering the need for new legislation. No judge would give the airlines a pass.

Congress' powers can be very useful and beneficial to society as a whole. Unfortunately, they're just as often abused by politicians who want to look good on the local news lecturing the poor designated company executive who has to sit there and hear essentially the same complaint and answer the same questions from all commission members.
 
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TheFlyingDisk
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:20 am

Somehow this scene came to mind when I read about this

https://youtu.be/9FnO3igOkOk?t=39s
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EA CO AS
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:51 am

spacecadet wrote:
I, personally, am happy to see my government actually doing something


Is this really "The Government" acting on behalf of concerned citizenry at large, or is this the act of two sitting Senators looking to score cheap points with their constituents and make names for themselves?

Sorry, but I'm not buying the whole "the people have a right to know!" angle.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

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BobPatterson
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:15 am

EA CO AS wrote:

Sorry, but I'm not buying the whole "the people have a right to know!" angle.


Could you please expand on this? What is it that you think the people do not have a right to know?
Facts are fragile things. Treat them with care. Sources are important. Alternative facts do not exist.
 
ltbewr
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:21 am

I suggested in the thread as to DL's IT failures that a Congressional/Senate committee investigation would happen. This was a very public, international IT failure that involved 2 of of our biggest airlines. It caused many 1000's to have their lives disrupted. It had large economic losses. There are questions to be asked if this was due to hacking, especially by foreign nationals or terror groups, as well as serious problems with software, hardware or backup systems that could affect any big company with serious economic, security and safety affects. Problem is that most of the Senators/Congress members don't have a clue about how IT works, too many will just use the opportunity to lecture the airlines for their failures and to bash airlines in general for their poor service and ever increasing fees.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:07 pm

I have asked several times over the years how long did it take airlines to recover after major disruptions, be they volcanos, snow, IT issues, war, terrorism. The question never has been really answered. I hope that any investigation would get answers to that question. What percent of people were transported to their destination in the next time period. 12 hour periods might be appropriate. What compensation should have been offered for delays? Was it offered? Did the airlines put people on indefinite hold/stand in line/ broken phone connections etc. I expect after a major disruption to be given a definite person who reschedules my flight, and part of the answer might be that the person will not be available for i.e., 2, 24, 48 hours or whatever.

As a consumer we should have the right to this sort of information, as of now the airlines hide it behind an entire fog-smoke screen. I am quite willing to pay a reasonable amount more to an airline which offers quicker resolutions of major disruptions. And I would avoid airlines which choose not to.
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WesternDC6B
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:14 pm

This is just another excuse for politicians to make harrumphing noises in public. http://tinyurl.com/n9e3up2

We Must Do Something. We Must Form Yet Still Another Further Different Bureaucracy To Investigate These Matters! Remember: It's an election year.

Senators: These things happen, and they get fixed and life goes on. Sit down and pass another tax or something. You'll feel better.
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EA CO AS
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:51 pm

BobPatterson wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:

Sorry, but I'm not buying the whole "the people have a right to know!" angle.


Could you please expand on this? What is it that you think the people do not have a right to know?


Let me rephrase; I doubt many, if any, people have written these Senators demanding inquiries. It's more likely that they have wrapped themselves in the flag and put on this farcical show of political theater in hopes of advancing themselves.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

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alfa164
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:26 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
BobPatterson wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:

Sorry, but I'm not buying the whole "the people have a right to know!" angle.


Could you please expand on this? What is it that you think the people do not have a right to know?


Let me rephrase; I doubt many, if any, people have written these Senators demanding inquiries. It's more likely that they have wrapped themselves in the flag and put on this farcical show of political theater in hopes of advancing themselves.


I have no doubt you are correct. Remember, these are the same guys who - after undoubtedly receiving thousands of letters asking them to do so - can't even schedule hearings for a Supreme Court nominee.
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rcair1
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:49 pm

spacecadet wrote:
Sheesh, there's a lot of anti-government sentiment in here. "Congress should fix congress first", etc. Well, this is the kind of thing governments *do*. If congress wants to "fix congress", it should be doing more stuff like this and less stuff like shutting the government down because it doesn't like the current president. This is called "running a country".

Yes, the airlines *are* a public service, in that they're a facet of the transportation infrastructure. The government has spent at *least* hundreds of billions of dollars over the years, and continues to spend billions every year, on building and maintaining the infrastructure that the airlines use. The implicit deal is that in return, the airlines will provide reliable service. And that makes the economy work.

I, personally, am happy to see my government actually doing something, and making sure that the airlines are making proper use of my tax dollars. If an airline can't reliably transport people from point A to point B, then it has no business being allowed to use the infrastructure my tax dollars built. Give that capacity to a better airline - not every airline has had these problems. But all of them should be on notice that they need to do a better job.


I would not call it anti-government, it is holding the elected officials accountable for doing (or not doing) their jobs. That is the right of the citizens - at least in the US - it is in fact, our duty.
Unfortunately, more and more people are letting the government extend their 'role' well beyond what is outlined in the constitution. Many are pretty tired of it, including many who work for the government BTW.
rcair1
 
geologyrocks
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:50 pm

spacecadet wrote:
Sheesh, there's a lot of anti-government sentiment in here. "Congress should fix congress first", etc. Well, this is the kind of thing governments *do*. If congress wants to "fix congress", it should be doing more stuff like this and less stuff like shutting the government down because it doesn't like the current president. This is called "running a country".

Yes, the airlines *are* a public service, in that they're a facet of the transportation infrastructure. The government has spent at *least* hundreds of billions of dollars over the years, and continues to spend billions every year, on building and maintaining the infrastructure that the airlines use. The implicit deal is that in return, the airlines will provide reliable service. And that makes the economy work.

I, personally, am happy to see my government actually doing something, and making sure that the airlines are making proper use of my tax dollars. If an airline can't reliably transport people from point A to point B, then it has no business being allowed to use the infrastructure my tax dollars built. Give that capacity to a better airline - not every airline has had these problems. But all of them should be on notice that they need to do a better job.


So because you drive on roads that are public ally funded, even though you yourself contribute to that infrastructure, does that mean I have a right to look into every aspect of your life?

Do you think Delta doesn't have enough motivation on its own to fix its problems? Do you think a committee filled with a bunch of useless JD degrees are going to fix IT problems? Are these the same guys that said airlines should drop bag fees to reduce TSA lines? Has Congress considered eliminating income taxes to reduce call wait times at the IRS? I mean...revenue - who needs it, right?

If you're unhappy with Delta then don't fly them. If you're unhappy with US airlines it's because the US consumer has proven time after time that they only care about price and you can't get a flat bed for $49. The first class cabin is available if you're willing to pay for it.
Last edited by geologyrocks on Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
deltal1011man
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:52 pm

spacecadet wrote:
Sheesh, there's a lot of anti-government sentiment in here. "Congress should fix congress first", etc. Well, this is the kind of thing governments *do*. If congress wants to "fix congress", it should be doing more stuff like this and less stuff like shutting the government down because it doesn't like the current president. This is called "running a country".

wait, you call what is going on in Washington running a country? lol did you grow up in the USSR? "debt is good, we can't run the government worth a crap now its time to go into the private sector! "
again, these guys need to clean there own house before telling a company who is producing 18-20% margins, has a plan to reduce debt down to 4B etc. etc. what to do. Matter of fact they could learn a hell of a lot from Delta and Southwest.

and thats not being anti-government, thats being someone who understand basic economics.

spacecadet wrote:
Yes, the airlines *are* a public service, in that they're a facet of the transportation infrastructure. The government has spent at *least* hundreds of billions of dollars over the years, and continues to spend billions every year, on building and maintaining the infrastructure that the airlines use. The implicit deal is that in return, the airlines will provide reliable service. And that makes the economy work.

no. That is 100% wrong.
They are NOT a public service. If they are a public service then re-regulate the industry and let taxes pay for airlines.

The are a publicly traded company. Publicly traded companies need to make money. I understand these two have no earthly idea what it is like to work for people who want them to be profitable but airline leadership does. Let the market and wall street fix the issue, it will happen a lot faster and a hell of a lot better than any of the current garbage in DC sticking there inefficient noses in it.

spacecadet wrote:
I, personally, am happy to see my government actually doing something, and making sure that the airlines are making proper use of my tax dollars. If an airline can't reliably transport people from point A to point B, then it has no business being allowed to use the infrastructure my tax dollars built. Give that capacity to a better airline - not every airline has had these problems. But all of them should be on notice that they need to do a better job.

lol. So you care about a tiny % of tax dollars being ran "right" (in your and there minds only, btw) but racking up debt etc. etc. is cool?

explain the logic in that one.....
 
Indy
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:48 pm

AerolineasAR343 wrote:
Why are some members here so protective of airlines? If they wish to operate they should be subject of laws and inquiries, especially when having shortcomings of such notable proportions.

We have a trip report in this very site that chronicles how a member was stranded for 3 days in the WN debacle. You don't think the US Congress should go asking questions to ensure something like that doesn't happen again? Or are we dogmatic (should I say, fanatic) believers about the regulation of business?


It is because this is the industry of excuses. I've never seen so many apologists for an industry before. This absolutely must be investigated. This technical incompetence strands tens of thousands of people at likely a great deal more expense than an airline is obligated to reimburse for. These failures cause a ripple effect across the nation. As you've obviously seen, the repercussions are felt days beyond the initial failure. If we are to treat Delta as a regular company then let them try and fly without federally funded facilities like airports and air traffic control centers. Let them try and fly without federal certifications. Since they are private and what not.

If their tech failures are so severe, who is to say they aren't badly lacking in securing other areas of their operation that could lead to bad people having access to parts of the operation they shouldn't have. When you see this kind of incompetence you cannot assume it is strictly limited to IT.

My 2 cents.
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bohica
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:00 pm

When career politicians have nothing better to do than to use the airline industry as a scapegoat to blow smoke up the asses of the voters, it reinforces my desire for term limits for congressmen.
 
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BobPatterson
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:17 pm

alfa164 wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:
BobPatterson wrote:

Could you please expand on this? What is it that you think the people do not have a right to know?


Let me rephrase; I doubt many, if any, people have written these Senators demanding inquiries. It's more likely that they have wrapped themselves in the flag and put on this farcical show of political theater in hopes of advancing themselves.


I have no doubt you are correct. Remember, these are the same guys who - after undoubtedly receiving thousands of letters asking them to do so - can't even schedule hearings for a Supreme Court nominee.


Sorry, but you are incorrect. Senators Markey and Blumenthal are in no way responsible for failure of the Senate to schedule those hearings. Period. Wrong side of the aisle.

Is it possible to stop all the bloviating and address only the issues raised by the Senators' letter to the airlines? There are just two of them.

I suspect that most a.netters posting in this thread have not taken the time to read the complete letter. It poses ten questions.

THREE of the questions relate to IT infrastructure, backup systems and the like. Personally, I have my doubts that Congress can or should do anything in this area. The airlines themselves have all the incentives needed to do the best possible job in designing, operating and maintaining their IT systems. I don't think legislation can help here.

SEVEN of the questions relate to the treatment that customers receive (or don't receive) when the airlines fail to perform reasonably. There are at present (to my knowledge) no standardized rules governing such matters and I think there should be. I also think that, since this is a matter of interstate commerce, that Congress is the only agency with the authority to address the situation.

I had hoped that there might be well-reasoned and thoughtful discussion on this topic (consumer protections) which is the main thrust of the Markey-Blumenthal letter.

Thanks in advance for such contributions.
Facts are fragile things. Treat them with care. Sources are important. Alternative facts do not exist.
 
deltal1011man
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Re: Senators Want Answers From Airlines On IT Failures

Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:38 pm

BobPatterson wrote:

Sorry, but you are incorrect. Senators Markey and Blumenthal are in no way responsible for failure of the Senate to schedule those hearings. Period. Wrong side of the aisle.

questionable at best.
but lets not get into the finger pointing over this issue here. Enough of that going on in DC.

BobPatterson wrote:
Is it possible to stop all the bloviating and address only the issues raised by the Senators' letter to the airlines? There are just two of them.

it doesn't matter if there are 1, 2, 6 or 16 trillion. The fact is the US government and people like these losers have shown that they can't even pull their heads out of their own asses much less start telling airlines how they should be ran.

BobPatterson wrote:
SEVEN of the questions relate to the treatment that customers receive (or don't receive) when the airlines fail to perform reasonably. There are at present (to my knowledge) no standardized rules governing such matters and I think there should be. I also think that, since this is a matter of interstate commerce, that Congress is the only agency with the authority to address the situation.

of course you do. Everyone always thinks that this should be paid for or that should be paid for but never have a good answer of who is paying for it.
maybe we should set up a government fund, from taxes, that will pay when the airline has an act of God failure. Of course said fund should be optional and only be used by those who pay into it. That seems fair.
I mean hell, the US government has done such a good job with social s......oh wait.

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