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Squawks & HeadlinesUnited Airlines nationwide computer outage

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United Airlines nationwide computer outage

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Here we go again, according to Los Angeles flight crew United's system is down nationwide. No eta. All flights held on ground until it is resolved (i.imgur.com) More...

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BertNeut
Bert Neut 4
United not only breaks guitars.
Moviela
Ric Wernicke 3
There are those who need a computer on the ground to fly their aircraft, and then there are others who can fly with little more than a piece of yarn taped to the cowling.
Korling
Korling 3
I think what many do not realize is that when companies start cost cutting, the last thing on the minds of the CFO is the cost of IT. They will spend a ton of dollars on advertising and marketing, but won't pay top dollar for IT personnel and equipment....which ignorantly, is the backbone of their whole system. Everything in corporates mind is about getting their e-mail and that the customer website is working. They give little thought to the underlying operation and maintnence of the underlying backbone. They think once you buy it, that's the end of it. When the IT folks ask for training to keep up with the latest trends, its not in the budget. ....a poor way to run a railroad. When you double the size of operations without taking into consideration the infrastructure to support it, this is what happens. IT, in my opinion, was not and is not scaled for their growth at United.
irobac
irobac 3
United has had problems with their computers ever since switching to the Continental system earlier this year. I switched to AA for my travels after they left myself and several others a the gate, and the aircraft left with open seats because their agents didn't know how to get us on the flight.
Number1Mom
De Crockett 3
Unfortunately, over the years companies have spent millions of dollars on technology, and as little as possible on improving real back office operations. Ouch! It really comes back to haunt them when they do this merger stuff! Most of these legacy IT systems are pieced together with rubber bands and paperclips! Over the years key IT folks got big raises based on "cost savings" to the company so roll-outs were never fully implemented, program applications were never upgraded, trillions of data bytes of backed-up data (which they told every body was "electronic records") just sat in tapes and silos and collectively rotted away one byte at a time. No one has the old encryption keys. Layer upon layer. No one wrote anything down. Can of worms - big time! Tip of the iceberg as they say!
Korling
Korling 1
To continue your point, only SOME IT folks got big raises. To offset those raises, SOME IT folks were let go or disenfranchised due to the shortcuts. What if one of those "insiders" did this to get some attention to the issue? Or going even further, did this so that they may become the hero and THEN get the big raise by fixing the so-called problem? An Arsenio Hall moment here....things to make you go hmmmmmmm.
Number1Mom
De Crockett 1
Yes, and it is those at the top, who also justify the outrageous expense by showing they are sensitive to the need to reduce costs. Their answer - outsourcing sensitive and secure IT operational functions to people who then live by pay check to paycheck and have no vested interest in the company! Makes matters worse in my opinion.
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
That is why IT people sometimes get the "GOD" syndrome. It is a known disease. We had it at my company once.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Been there, Done that. Bad habit of making fun at those that don't know what he does. Not good
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
We wound up firing everybody and hiring an outside source who had no interest in control at our company.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Ours bit the dust by attrition (Well he left when we would no longer defend his smart aleck attitude), but it took us 2 weeks to get by the thank you's we had from the employees.lol
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
That is sad, but today many businesses have the same problem. When the computers go down, the business shuts down. Ever been in Wal-Mart when the computers fail? May as well abandon the shopping cart. To do anything manually seems to be out of the question anymore, along with common sense.
preacher1
preacher1 1
So true. Last I heard, major software companies in the country were recommending simple things like server replacement at least every 3 years but the attitude of most management was, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. An identical server, after 3 years, has so much upgraded or new tecnology, it's not even funny.
preacher1
preacher1 1
What is kinda curious to me is why United would maintain a server bank for such an important program so far away from from a corporate office. While serving CLT, neither Continental nor United had that big a presence before or after the merger. It is not uncommon for some functions to be off site, especially as a backup center but not a primary such as this.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, that is a fallacy of today's business. The computers save a ton of work and give untold information, but there is no halfway. You are either on them or off them. I was in a local feed store the othr day and the kids are all running it and transformed over to a computer system. I made my purchase and while waiting on the computer to talley & ticket, the company founder was there and said " If I had my paper and pencil, I'd aleady have had you out of here".
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
Yep. The ultimate redundancy-pencil & paper.
earlvanzant
Earl Vanzant 1
Several years ago I was in a grocery store when the barcode scanner computer went down. Clerks at the registers would suggest a price for each item and the customer would either agree or propose a different price, which the clerks usually accepted. The store probably lost money that day, but they didn't lose customers.
Number1Mom
De Crockett 2
Sounds like the shareholders at United need to talk to the mgmt team at the next annual meeting!
Moviela
Ric Wernicke 1
If management of any public company listened to shareholders at the annual meeting that would be good, but in reality questions from the floor are regarded as the work of corporate gadflies and consequently ignored. I would rather they take written questions, and let top management get back to increasing shareholder value for me. I don't invest to make the world a better place, I do it to make money.
mrippe
mrippe 1
basic logic says that you segment your systems. i.e. using the mississippi river as a boundry, all traffic on the east side runs on an east cluster and west side, etc one central cluster passes cross border data to both sides. one part going down only effects one area. ideally, the system should be segmented as four parts thus minimizing the effects of a crash.
is it me, or does the new united have some serious senior management issues?
awful lot of strange things happening lately.
perpetualv
Just what the pilots are telling us. I'm on the flight now.
AdamCort
Adam Cortez 1
This is an updated article apparently and has new information than the one I saw below.
Alex13
Alejandro S 1
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

United's Computer System Goes Down, All United Airport Flight Operations Stopped

United Airlines suffered a major computer system failure today around 3:15pm (EST) which has affected reservations, ticketing, checking-in, and boarding flights.

United's servers in Charlotte, NC went down at 3:15pm, and those server operate the SHARES computer program...

http://www.thefloridanewsjournal.com/2012/08/28/uniteds-computer-system-goes-down-all-united-airport-flight-operations-stopped
yf2217
nicky sauter 1
me dad is a pilot and he is flying right now so lets pray that the system gets back up soon because he might delayed a while!!!!
drdisque
Ben Deneweth 1
Things came back a little before 6 EDT.
SootBox
SootBox 1
When I did banking software a few years back, we had to build about everything with triple redundancy with unique system indentities. Anything happened to one, system two immediately picked up the work. Anything happened to three, systems were halted in place. We never went to 3.
earlvanzant
Earl Vanzant 1
Several years ago, I was in a grocery store when the barcode computer went down. The clerks at the registers would suggest a price for each item, which the customer could accept or make a counter proposal. The store probably lost money that day, but they didn't lose customers.
Number1Mom
De Crockett 2
Don't worry Nicky! Your dad will be alright. This is why he practice, practice, practice so that he can even fly without the aid of computers. Talk about hero!
preacher1
preacher1 2
Mark: you are correct in that is basic logic, but with their business being Nation and Worldwide, with an action in Tokyo affecting Chicago, I wonder how they could segment it. That said, based on another comment down here, It looks like there should be some redundancy somewhere, with so much at stake.
Number1Mom
De Crockett 1
Right on! Maybe there is a job waiting for you at United!
mduell
Mark Duell 1
Departures continue...

UAL702 | KLAS | KEWR | 2012-08-28 20:03:00
UAL371 | KCLE | KORD | 2012-08-28 20:01:00
UAL665 | KPIT | KORD | 2012-08-28 19:59:00
mduell
Mark Duell 1
A 15 minute gap in departures now:

UAL727 | KSFO | KIAD | 2012-08-28 20:19:00
UAL431 | KSFO | KLAS | 2012-08-28 20:06:00
gopurduego
Robert Lewis 1
Not sure if it's related, but SFO is holding all inbound flights at origin, doesn't appear to be a weather issue. Can't find any news about United situation.
mduell
Mark Duell 2
Ground stop until 21Z at SFO and 22Z at EWR due to "UAL COMPUTER ISSUE"
dbaker
Daniel Baker 0
United announced the outage on Facebook and their web site is totally down now. http://i.imgur.com/zjVgK.png
genethemarine
Gene spanos -1
Blame it on the DNC preview gang....
preacher1
preacher1 -1
The original article was the story that Alejandro S has linked on his post below. It tells of all the ground stops issued and delays, BUT, what is interesting is the possibilty that the system was HACKED and that the FBI is looking into it. Now, that can e one of 2 things: It could just be a cover story to cover their butt. If it was hacked, there is an IT person somewhere with their tail in a bad crack.
pjtemplin
Pete Templin 1
If it was hacked, it might not be an IT person with their tail on high alert. It could be a manager, director, or perhaps a vendor.
SkyVoice
Benny Bivins 1
Or a state-sponsored terrorist. This could be a dry run, a rehearsal for something much bigger (although it is big enough as it is!).

I feel and pray for those stranded for many hours, especially unaccompanied minors and families traveling with small children.
preacher1
preacher1 -2
I would guess it would be whoever denied the money to firewall it best they could, but I got a feeling it's a cover story to cover their butts.
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
AAAhhh computers. One minute your best friend. Next minute your worst nightmare. They may become a bigger killer than Osama.
Number1Mom
De Crockett -3
Not for nothing, but I called it on Flight Aware - Several months ago when they had systems problems with online ticketing service!
Number1Mom
De Crockett -4
United needs to understand that it is not in a business wherein it can cut corners! That includes operational systems conversions required as a result of the merger. Where is the demonstrated commitment to safety, to customers, to dedicated employees? With a nationwide computer outage - nowhere!
pjtemplin
Pete Templin 5
Where is your demonstrated proof that this outage is the result of cutting corners? Let's face it, a computer system for any major airline is going to be complex. Making something that complex into a redundant, highly-available system to minimize outages is going to add complexity. Sometimes those redundancies don't read the textbook, and outages happen.
xdlx
Pablo Bassabe 3
Absolutetly correct, but after the first meltdown, you create some redundancy so it
does not CRASH AGAIN!
Britishboyy
Tyler Tashji -1
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Computer woes cancel, delay some United flights

United Airlines' reservation system went down for about two hours Tuesday afternoon, canceling and delaying flights and causing a backlog of passengers at some of the nation's busiest airports.

http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/story/2012-08-28/United-Airlines-struggles-with-computer-problems/57379340/1?csp=ip