Southwest Airlines collapsed: Tens of thousands of flight cancellations were caused by IT systems in the 1990s
Last week’s super-powerful winter storm “Storm Elliott” paralyzed the U.S. civil aviation industry “once in decades” during the Christmas holiday week.
According to FlightAware, a flight information tracking tool, more than 17,000 flights were canceled across the United States from December 21 to 26. Fortunately, after the passage of the extreme cold air, all airlines have returned to more than 80% of normal near Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Only Southwest Airlines is an anomaly: the number of canceled flights has increased, and the entire airline has collapsed from five days before Christmas to three days after Christmas and is still paralyzed.
People in Silicon Valley who have been to SJC at San Jose Airport in recent days are familiar with this scene: Passengers crowded the departure hall, and the queue even lined up outside the terminal; unclaimed luggage piled up in the carousel area, and there was chaos everywhere.
At Nashville International Airport in Tennessee, Southwest Airlines even “outsourced” customer service to the police. A video uploaded on the evening of December 27 showed a police officer threatening passengers who had nowhere to go due to flight cancellations, “Southwest called us and told us to come. You don’t have a valid ticket. If you don’t leave, I will arrest you!”
The “grand occasions” at airports around the world can be said to be the fault of Southwest Airlines. According to incomplete statistics, Southwest Airlines canceled an average of 2,500 or more flights in a single day within three days, and did not resume until the weekend. According to data from the FlightAware platform, since the Christmas weekend, most of the canceled flights in the United States are Southwest Airlines; starting from the 28th, only Southwest Airlines is still canceling flights in the United States.
This isn’t the first time Southwest’s system-wide outage has resulted in flight cancellations. Southwest has experienced a similar situation in October 2021, but the degree is not as exaggerated as this time. Disappointing passengers again and again, and it’s still the Christmas holiday when everyone goes home to reunite… What happened to Southwest Airlines?
Based on the information disclosed by several people in the civil aviation industry and employees of Southwest Airlines, try to restore the reasons behind the Southwest paralysis.
The culprit: an ancient, outdated rostering system
There is no doubt that winter storm Elliott is the fuse of this great paralysis. On December 21, a historic extratropical bomb cyclone formed over North America, and both the United States and Canada issued blizzard warnings. Beginning on December 23, many major cities in North America have entered the snowstorm range. On Christmas Day from 21st to 25th, more than 10,000 flights were delayed or canceled.
However, the old crew scheduling platform of Southwest Airlines is the core reason for this major paralysis. Many civil aviation workers, including anonymous Southwest Airlines employees on the Internet, said that Southwest Airlines has been using an extremely old back-end system, especially the crew scheduling platform. The system is very old and the rules are very exaggerated.
Specifically, general airlines need to look at their real-time systems or FAA public data to know where the captain and flight attendants are. This logic is very simple, but Southwest does not do this, but uses a very outdated “preview + manual recording” system:
After Southwest schedules the flight crew, it will automatically move the location to the destination of the flight; if the flight is diverted, delayed or canceled, the Southwest system cannot automatically update the location of the crew, and it is necessary to manually confirm the flight status and then manually modify it. When heavy delays and flight cancellations are caused by snowstorms in various places, Southwest employees have to manually track and modify a lot, resulting in a serious shortage of manpower, unable to track the latest flight status and modify it in time.
The snowball got bigger and bigger, and finally there were serious information errors on the scheduling platform, none of which was accurate. The whole system is completely “failed”. For example, the flight from Los Angeles is sold out, a large number of passengers have checked in, their luggage has been collected, and the Southwest system has also arranged for the crew—and the whole crew is still thousands of miles away in New York, Dallas, and Denver. , there is only one captain on the scene, of course there is no way to fly.
Even more outrageous is yet to come.
In the company call on December 28, COO Andrew Watterson admitted the above situation, and because the information error was too serious, the system was completely unusable, so the company had to urgently notify all crew members and ask them to report their current location.
And what should be the method of return? Employees log into the system to report by themselves? Send a text message? Fill out an online form? All overrated Southwest Airlines. The so-called self-return means asking all crew members to call “one” phone number. Southwest Airlines not only cannot use the automatic scheduling platform, but also has extremely limited manual administrative capabilities. While passengers lined up at the airport to go to heaven, tens of thousands of flight crew members across the country made the same phone call to report the location, and both sides waited until the end of time.
Some employees even waited up to 23 hours for the phone to be connected, and the scheduling platform was seriously out of order, which not only made it impossible for the company to know the exact location of the employees, but even caused “derivative disasters” – the US regulatory agency FAA stipulates that civil aviation crews work for a certain period of time , you must take a forced rest before continuing to fly. Usually, the airline system can automatically count the working hours of employees, and automatically book a hotel at the current location after overtime.
However, Southwest’s backstage system was severely paralyzed. Not only could the scattered flight crew not be able to go to work, they couldn’t even stay in a hotel. If they couldn’t book a room, these employees couldn’t calculate their mandatory rest time, let alone work. According to people familiar with the matter, Southwest employees completely abandoned the company’s system in those two days, and many crew members paid for hotel bookings themselves, although they didn’t know if they would be able to reimburse them later.
In addition to the system, Southwest Airlines angered a large number of employees just a few days before the collapse, and the old and new hatreds of course exacerbated the system paralysis.
After December, the United States is facing a “tripledemic” (Tripledemic): the new crown, influenza, and RSV (respiratory fusion virus) are simultaneously pandemic. Many people are sick at home, and Southwest Airlines is not spared. The content of the company letter on December 21 was that Chris Johnson, vice president of Southwest Airlines, issued a State of Operational Emergency order at Denver Airport.
He said that too many people took sick leave and personal leave, which led to a shortage of personnel. The company had to temporarily modify the leave rules of Denver Airport employees. After taking sick leave and returning to work, a diagnosis certificate must be issued, and the doctor must be seen in person, and the remote doctor is not counted, otherwise he will be fired directly; If the approved personal leave is rejected, all employees who ask for leave will automatically return to work, and those who do not come to work on time will be directly fired; if the number of voluntary overtime workers is not enough, the company will force them to work overtime, and employees who do not work overtime will also be fired.
This letter exploded as soon as it was mailed.
Denver employees who have taken sick and personal leave simply do not come to work. It is rumored that at least 100 ground staff at Denver Airport resigned from the 21st to the 22nd. Considering that Denver is Southwest Airlines’ largest stronghold, the consequences of angering ground staff can be imagined. The most outrageous thing was this flight: the flight from Tampa to Denver had to fly back to Tampa even though it had arrived in Denver because of the Denver ground staff strike.
The already difficult progress of resuming work was hit hard again and again, and finally all efforts were wasted. Southwest Airlines’ current plan is to cancel all flights and “restart”, because there is no other way to restart the background system except to clear it. This is why more and more Southwest Airlines flight cancellations began on the 26th, and the backlog of passengers and luggage became more and more serious. The “grand events” that Silicon Valley friends saw at SJC were just a drop in the bucket. After all, Southwest Airlines is the airport with the highest traffic in the United States, and SJC does not even rank in the top ten.
On the 26th, an anonymous user claiming to be an employee posted an explanation in the Southwest Airlines unofficial discussion forum on Reddit to let everyone know more about the extent of the collapse of Southwest Airlines and how to arrange travel next. This article has been deleted, but the original text is as follows:
- This time of paralysis, the fuse was indeed the winter storm, but the paralysis to such an extent was entirely the fault of Southwest Airlines. If the Southwest customer service also tells you that it is because of the storm, it is a lie (actually the company’s statement).
- The main cause of the paralysis was the complete failure of the crew scheduling software, and manual scheduling by calling did not work. “If we had better technology and didn’t have to make phone calls, this problem would have been solved a long time ago.”
- If travelers are stranded, there are alternative transportation options – leaving the airport directly is the fastest way, so don’t hesitate.
- Luggage can not be checked, because no one can guarantee where the luggage will appear. At present, checked luggage can be described as a disaster. If any checked luggage is lost, it may take at least a month or more to find it.
- Don’t wait for the Southwest to recover, and don’t take chances: flights will be canceled within 3 days; within 4 to 7 days, it is “possible” to fly according to the schedule; after 7 days, it should return to normal.
Reddit netizens also helped with ideas: “Stuck at the airport and have nothing to do? Go to the luggage carousel to find unclaimed luggage. If there is a phone number on it, tell the owner where the luggage is now.”
After learning about the details of the crash, many netizens said that they don’t know much about the technology of the civil aviation industry. They never thought that airlines in the 21st century would be paralyzed by such an outdated scheduling system. What makes netizens even more angry is that Southwest outsources for the same reason again and again, and finally it is the employees who post anonymously to learn the truth.
In an interview with the US media, COO Andrew Watterson also had to admit that the company’s system is too old: “We have enough planes, but there is a problem with the scheduling software. Our technology cannot immediately and accurately match the crew and the flight.” Watterson will The backstage system of Southwest Airlines is described as a house of cards—any small problem in a small place will cause the house of cards to collapse instantly. “Just when the problem was about to be solved, a new problem occurred…we had to reset the system.”
The debacle prevented millions of people across the United States from returning home before Christmas, and it also caused embarrassment to Southwest Airlines executives. They keep saying “to solve system problems”, but the follow-up is like a “wolf is coming” story.
Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Union, said in an interview with CNN, “We have been suffering from the same problem for the past year and a half. Crashes of different sizes have become more frequent, but in fact, as long as the IT system and process are done well, it can be solved.” According to He knew that Southwest’s back office system hadn’t been changed since the 1990s.
Decline in GameStop’s Quarterly Revenue
According to financial data, digital gaming sales growth at the Grapevine, Texas, store is not compensating for a drop in in-store purchases.
Despite the company’s best attempts to offset the fall in physical sales with growth in digital transactions, GameStop Corp. just reported its worst quarterly revenue dip in two years. In the three months leading up to October 29th, net sales dropped 8.5% to $1.19 billion, which was lower than the $1.39 billion predicted by two analysts. Loss per share after adjustments came in at 31 cents, which was higher than the predicted loss of 29 cents. The company is only worth $7 billion, and its stock is extremely volatile, therefore very few analysts cover it.
Since becoming chairman of the board this year, Ryan Cohen has been working to reinvigorate GameStop’s growth in Grapevine, which has slowed as customers switch from purchasing game CDs to purchasing digital downloads. To make matters worse, COVID-19 lockdowns crippled GameStop’s retail operation, and supply shortages on consoles have further impacted profits.
According to market research firm NPD Group, overall spending in the gaming business fell 5% in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago.
Earlier this week, Axios reported that GameStop has begun a new wave of layoffs, with a particular focus on the team developing the company’s blockchain wallet. GameStop also announced layoffs of an undisclosed number of employees and the departure of CFO Mike Recupero in July.
In its earnings release, GameStop said nothing about layoffs
Cohen has been trying to get GameStop involved in digital assets, but it’s been difficult. The company began transitioning into nonfungible tokens in September, when it announced a partnership with cryptocurrency exchange FTX US. The parties agreed to work together on some new e-commerce and online marketing projects and stock some stores with FTX gift cards. However, the crypto market went into a tailspin in November after FTX imploded with $9 billion in liabilities and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
CEO Matt Furlong stated on an earnings call with analysts that GameStop does not have “a meaningful balance of any cryptocurrency.” We have not and will not put significant shareholder capital at risk by entering this market.
Furlong has stated his optimism for the continued development of digital assets
GameStop became a symbol of the meme-stock mania that swept the retail trading community during the pandemic, in which the price of specific stocks was driven up by online discussion of such stocks on Reddit and other social media platforms rather than by any actual business fundamentals. The stock price, which is down 40% so far this year, rose by around 1% in after-hours trading on Wednesday in response to the news.
Newcomers Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Kalanick
Three of the most famous people in the tech business are Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Travis Kalanick. They’ve all achieved phenomenal success in technology and been in the front of some of the industry’s most game-changing developments. Sacca is a well-known businessman and investor who put money into companies like Twitter, Uber, and Instagram at an early stage. Dorsey co-founded and currently leads Twitter, while Kalanick created and resigned as head of Uber.
Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Travis Kalanick: Who Are They?
Can You Introduce Me to Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Travis Kalanick? The tech industry is led by visionaries like Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Travis Kalanick. Chris Sacca is a successful businessman, investor, and entrepreneur from the United States. The likes of Twitter, Uber, Instagram, and Kickstarter all counted on his early financial support. Jack Dorsey founded Square and serves as its CEO. He is also a co-founder of Twitter. He is considered a forerunner in the fields of microblogging and online monetary transactions. Uber, the groundbreaking ride-hailing service founded by Travis Kalanick, has completely altered the transportation landscape. It is widely believed that Kalanick single-handedly destroyed the traditional taxi sector with his work on mobile app-based transportation services. All three of these men are quite young yet have already made significant contributions to the technology sector.
How did these three people get where they are today?
Three of the most successful businesspeople alive now are Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Travis Kalanick. The remarkable success of their individual companies has made these three men household names, and they have become IT industry icons. It’s not surprising that these businesspeople have succeeded, given their combined intelligence and doggedness. Chris Sacca, an early investor in Twitter and Uber, was the first of the three to find financial success.
Sacca’s knowledge of the tech business allowed him to see the potential in the social network, and his investment in Twitter allowed Jack Dorsey to start the company. Jack Dorsey played a key role in the development of Twitter and laid the groundwork for the service to go global. Finally, Travis Kalanick entered the digital industry late yet created Uber into a global powerhouse, cementing his place in history as one of the most successful and important business leaders of all time. These three gentlemen all have the requisite smarts and guts to start their own businesses and make a killing.
The Effects of Their Achievements
Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Travis Kalanick’s achievements have had a significant effect. These three men have built successful careers as technological pioneers and entrepreneurs. They have contributed to the development of today’s advanced technological landscape. Twitter, Uber, and Lowercase Capital are the three founders’ most notable accomplishments. Twitter has grown into an important resource for users to keep up with the latest news, trends, and other events, making it one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. The ride-hailing sector has been shaken up by Uber, which has become ubiquitous.
Lowercase Capital is a VC firm that has helped launch the careers of numerous entrepreneurs by investing in over 200 different software businesses. The achievements of Sacca, Dorsey, and Kalanick are not limited to the realms of the businesses they founded. They have a track record of investing in successful tech startups, which in turn inspires new generations of business owners to launch their own ground-breaking ventures. In addition, many people now have jobs because of their investments. Many would-be business owners have looked to Sacca, Dorsey, and Kalanick as examples of success. They have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve one’s goals through perseverance and hard effort. They have also demonstrated that a small number of innovative ideas can have a significant impact on the technological world. Because of this, numerous up-and-comers have been encouraged to follow in their footsteps and develop ground-breaking goods and services.
Perspectives on the “Newcomer”
The names Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Kalanick have become virtually inseparable from the modern information technology sector. These three “up-and-comers” changed the game by daring to challenge the status quo and taking calculated risks. Lowercase Capital was established by Chris Sacca, who has gone on to invest in the likes of Twitter, Uber, and Instagram. Jack Dorsey started both Twitter and Square and currently serves as CEO of both companies. Kalanick is the Uber founder and CEO, and his company has had a profound impact on the transportation sector. These three “newcomers” have all changed the face of technology forever, and their achievements have served as models for other would-be business owners.
Is there any guidance we may glean from their experiences?
Is there any guidance we may glean from their experiences? Current examples of people who have achieved great success include Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Travis Kalanick. These people have made names for themselves in the business and technology communities thanks to their accomplishments in disciplines as diverse as venture capital and entrepreneurship. However, aspiring businesspeople can learn a lot from their experiences. To begin, despite facing setbacks and defeat, all three of these individuals have remained steadfast in their dedication to the undertakings they’ve undertaken. They have shown they are willing to take chances by investing both time and money in their projects. They have also demonstrated skill at establishing and maintaining connections with other powerful individuals. All three of these men exemplify the traits that are crucial for success in business, and by learning from their experiences we may develop our own set of abilities and outlook.
Newcomers to the tech business who have made significant contributions include Chris Sacca, Jack Dorsey, and Kalanick. Each of them rose from obscurity to become a household name and a major force in their respective fields. These three guys have altered the course of technology with their respective venture capital investments (Sacca), startup (Twitter’s Jack Dorsey), and startup (Uber’s Travis Kalanick). They have inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs by demonstrating that anyone, regardless of background, can make a substantial impact on the world.
Case of the alphabet U.S. drone operations expansion: Wing wants FAA’s blessing D.C. (Reuters)
The Google subsidiary Wing Aviation has applied for a waiver from some FAA drone regulations so that it can expand its operations beyond a single small city in Virginia, according to a notification published by the FAA on Friday. As of early 2019, Wing has supplied a multitude of services for locals of Christiansburg, Virginia, including both scheduled and emergency deliveries. With the goal of serving more people, “Wing is now aiming to expand and improve upon these operations,” the company claimed in its request for waivers from some FAA drone regulations. The organization promised to listen to petitioners before reaching a final call. The FAA was informed by Wing that the company had “made major investments targeted to strengthen both the safety and capacity” of drone operations in the United States. More than 17 months have passed with no reported incidents. Wing seeks FAA clearance to move remote pilot activities “to regional operations centers that can monitor and safely handle a greater number of airliners at once. When it grows, Wing aims to utilize a variant “that has been demonstrated to be dependable in commercial operations and is extremely comparable in its operating characteristics,” Wing said. Yet “to identify and accept this alternate aircraft version,” approval from the FAA is required.
In addition, during the interval, Wing requested that the FAA conduct operator line inspections once every 12 months rather than every three. According to the report, “current limitations will make it infeasible to grow a light-footprint, distributed operation across a neighborhood,” therefore the amendments “will assist assure that more American homes may experience the benefits of (drone) technology.” Small drones can now legally fly over people and at night without special permission under new FAA regulations that went into effect on Wednesday. The long-awaited guidelines require remote identification technology in most situations to enable drone identification from the ground, which is intended to alleviate security concerns.
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