Sunday, February 5, 2017

Delta Computer Outage and My Night at Atlanta Airport

Most of you probably read about Delta Computer Outage on Sunday Jan 29, 2017. I was traveling on that night with Delta

6:45 PM
Passengers start boarding the 7:00 PM EST flight to West Coast.
7:20 PM
I am squeezed in the middle seat of a full flight. Through a noisy speaker system, the pilot announces that Delta Computer System has failed. The flight will take off once computers are restored.
7:45 PM
Passengers are still in the still plane. Captain comes back on the microphone. The computers are still down. He also says that if the computers are not back up by 8:15PM, the passengers will be asked to deplane.
8:00 PM
I read on internet that Delta Computers have crashed worldwide. All flights are impacted.  Several are stuck in planes. Computers crashed at 6:48 PM EST, around the time we are asked to board on the plane.
8:15 PM
Almost one and half hour in parked plane. Captain is back on microphone and announces that he will wait for 15 more minutes and if there is no progress, he will let us get out of plane.
8:30 PM
Captain asks us to deplane. All passengers are back on the terminal. Sigh of relief for me and some others who needed food and/or water.
9:30 PM
Passengers are asked to board again. Passengers are happy that finally the plane will leave.
10:15 PM
Everyone still in the plane and waiting. Captain announces that computers are slowly turning up but slow. He asked us to keep patience.
10:45 PM
Still on the ground. Captain announces that there is a problem on plane door and maintenance crew is fixing it. Once the door is fixed, we will be in air.
11:00 PM
Still on the ground and sitting in the plane. Captain announces something that I did not understand.
11:30 PM
FINALLY!!! The plane takes off!!!  All are happy and clap. We are in air.
12:45 AM
Somewhere in the air, captain comes back on microphone and announces that there is a problem in the wing. The flight cannot reach to West Coast, so he has to take it back to Atlanta. He also promises there will be ground crew to put us in a different plane.
1:40 AM
Plane is back at Atlanta.
2:00 AM
All passengers are back on the terminal gate. There is one customer support representative.  Passengers asked her about the new flight and she indicates that she has absolutely no idea and flight returning.
2:10 AM
Display screen indicates that flight will leave at 2:30 AM but from a different gate and terminal. There is not enough time to change the terminal. Customer support representative asks us to ignore the display and stay on the gate.
2:30 AM
Customer support announces that flight will leave at 3:00 AM. All passengers are still on the gate.
3:00 AM
Customer support announces the flight will leave at 330 AM.
3:45 AM
Customer support announces the flight is CANCELLED. We were asked to wait for new bookings.
4:30 AM
I call my travel agent, get an Uber and go to hotel as my flight is on next day.

The ordeal and frustration of the passengers were clear. Most kept calm and accepted the situation. Some were visibly angry. The lady on the wheel chair probably had the most difficult time in the process.   Another lady’s eyes were totally red. She asked the customer support for her checked bag because she needed her medicines. Customer support did not appear to help and the process appeared unclear to me.

Ironically, earlier at night in midst of computer failure, on the crowded terminal, very aggressive Delta sales folks were asking passengers to enroll in frequent flyer credit card for double mileage. If there was a program where I get money for the sitting in a still plane, I would have earned a lot that night. I wish Delta focuses on Services and Operations aspects instead of selling mileage program. 

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