Computer Outage Could Tarnish Delta's On-Time Reputation | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Computer Outage Could Tarnish Delta's On-Time Reputation

"This has happened to pretty much every major airline," said one analyst

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Delta Air Lines passengers stand in line after flights resumed on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, in Salt Lake City, following a computer outage. Delta Air Lines delayed or canceled hundreds of flights Monday after its computer systems crashed, stranding thousands of people on a busy travel day.

    We don't cancel flights.

    That's been the message for the past two years from Delta Air Lines. Double decker buses roamed the streets of New York, wrapped in ads proclaiming "canceling cancellations." Delta executives boasted about the number of days without a single flight scrapped.

    Lawmakers 'Tricked' Into Honoring Ku Klux Klansman

    [NATL] Tennessee Lawmakers 'Tricked' Into Honoring Ku Klux Klansman

    Lawmakers in Tennessee are crying foul after Republican Rep. Mike Sparks sneaked in a resolution to honor former Ku Klux Klansman Nathan Bedford Forrest with a bust under a different name. The resolution passed unanimously, 94-0, and the bust was installed at the state Capitol before lawmakers realized the mistake. 

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    That all literally ground to a halt Monday when a system-wide computer outage led to the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights. Passengers were stranded around the globe with many spending the night in the airport.

    Until this outage, Delta had an impressive record, envied by other airlines. By June 9 of this year, Delta had already notched up 100 days where none of its own jets canceled flights — more than all of its major competitors' no-cancel days combined. And the cancellations during the other 61 days were mostly related to weather, not maintenance issues.

    "Our people are hitting it out of the park, delivering on our promise to be a safe and reliable airline and making canceling cancellations a reality," Gil West, Delta's chief operating officer, said in a news release at the time trumpeting its record.

    Sometimes, Delta took extreme measures to preserve that record such as letting delays roll on throughout the day instead of canceling. But the lack of cancellations and the airline's mantra of "keep climbing" won over business travelers willing to pay extra for flights that arrive on time.

    UC Davis Now Sells Plan B and Condoms From a Vending Machine

    [NATL] UC Davis Now Sells Plan B, Pregnancy Tests and Condoms From a Vending Machine

    Students at the University of California, Davis, can now purchase $30 Plan B emergency contraceptives, pregnancy tests, condoms and other personal care products from a vending machine. The idea came from UC Davis senior Parteek Singh, after a friend was unable to buy emergency contraceptives in time. 

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    A decade ago, Delta was getting 90 cents for every dollar charged by its competitors. Today, it gets 110 cents, Delta's new CEO, Ed Bastian proudly noted in a May interview with The Associated Press.

    But Monday's outage threatens to wipe away all that trust that Delta has worked to build. It took Delta more than 24 hours to explain what happened: a power control malfunction that led to a power surge and loss of electricity. When the power came back some systems switched to backups, others didn't and that, Delta said, caused "instability in these systems."

    "Obviously this is a public relations disaster. But they're not unique. This has happened to pretty much every major airline," said Jim Corridore, of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Since this is the airline's first major outage — and as long as there isn't another one — Corridore said "Delta may get a pass here."

    Repeated problems can scare passengers away. When United Airlines had a series of computer meltdowns in 2012, loyal business travelers abandoned the carrier. There are only so many meetings — or chances to tuck your kids into bed — that road warriors will tolerate missing. Four years later, United's revenue still lags behind its competitors.

    Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams

    [NATL] Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams

    A new study finds that it is not the elderly who are most susceptible to scam phone calls, but millennials, who are six times more likely to give away credit card information than any other age group. 

    (Published Saturday, April 29, 2017)

    Fitch Ratings analysts Joseph Rohlena and Craig D. Fraser noted Monday that Delta can withstand one meltdown but — citing United's troubles — said Delta could be harmed if the issue spreads or is indicative of bigger problems.

    Delta did some things right, like posting a video of Bastain apologizing to customers at 1:30 p.m. Monday — a fairly quick response for an airline.

    The airline also offered anybody delayed three hours or more a $200 voucher toward a future trip.

    But there were also stumbles.

    Girl Scalped on Carnival Ride Talks Recovery One Year Later

    [NATL] Girl Scalped on Carnival Ride Talks Recovery One Year Later

    Elizabeth "Lulu" Gilreath talks about her recovery from a carnival ride gone very wrong. Gilreath was scalped when her hair was caught on the King's Crown ride in Omaha, Nebraska, but she does not dwell on the incident, saying "My scars don't define me."

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    It didn't help that Delta wasn't upfront, telling passengers what happened. Instead the airline initially blamed it on a power outage. But the local utility company, Georgia Power, was quick to fire back saying it was actually Delta's equipment that had failed.

    While rare, airlines do have computer outages from time to time. Last month, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights over four days after an outage that it blamed on a faulty network router.

    But nobody has attached as much importance to never canceling flights as Delta.

    Sometimes, though, that can lead to measures that passengers might not prefer. Instead of canceling a flight, Delta will just delay and delay and delay.

    Man Sees Vera Wang Diamond Ring on Sidewalk, Finds Its Owner

    [NATL] Man Finds Vera Wang Diamond Engagement Ring on Sidewalk, Tracks Down Its Owner

    Imagine looking down and finding a pristine diamond ring lying on the sidewalk. That was how Glenn Weddell found a Vera Wang diamond ring one afternoon in Sacramento, California. But instead of keeping it, Weddell hunted down the distraught owner to return the ring in a happy reunion. His method involved posting a sign to a tree downtown and hoping for the best. 

    (Published Thursday, April 27, 2017)

    That happened Monday night to Megan Milan who was on an 8:45 p.m. flight from Atlanta back home to Denver.

    "I had about four different notifications that my flight was pushed out, pushed out, pushed out and then at midnight I got the notification that it was cancelled," Milan said. "I would have rather received a cancellation yesterday instead of waiting around all night."

    That philosophy of delaying, but not canceling, isn't unique to this computer outage.

    Back on July 1, a massive thunderstorm caused giant delays in New York. Other airlines proactively canceled flights to give the few remaining ones a better chance of getting out of the airport.

    Inmate Convulses During Execution With Controversial Drug

    [NATL] Fourth Arkansas Inmate Convulses During Execution With Controversial Drug

    The controversy over midazolam, a drug used during state executions of convicted inmates, rises following the execution of a fourth Arkansas inmate in eight days. Witnesses say Kenneth Williams, put on death row for the 1999 murder of two people, moved and shook during his execution Thursday night.

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    Delta didn't.

    One flight after another was delayed and delayed but not canceled.

    Albert Choi was heading to Iceland with some friends for his birthday celebration.

    Their 9:15 p.m. flight kept getting pushed back an hour or two at a time. At 4 a.m., the gate agent offered an apology but no further update.

    "We couldn't sleep because we thought we were going to board at any time," Choi recalled on Tuesday.

    Finally, the flight departed around 1 p.m. It might have been 16 hours late, but it was never canceled.

    Choi says he would have preferred a cancellation so he could have gone home, slept in his own bed and then returned to the airport to catch a rescheduled flight.

    "It was just a bad experience and left a bad taste in my mouth," he said.

    Flyer Protections on Overbooked Plane Flights

    [NATL] Flyer Protections on Overbooked Plane Flights

    NBC reports on the steps that flyers and travelers can take to protect themselves, and their vacation, from an overbooked flight.

    (Published Wednesday, April 26, 2017)