Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Does a Software Problem Equate to a Travel Disaster?

How vulnerable is the travel infrastructure in this country?
A software glitch that snarled air traffic and caused baggage pileups at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport stretched into Thursday, with more flight cancellations expected.

American Airlines planned to cancel at least five flights scheduled to depart from Kennedy and said others could be delayed, a day after the malfunction led to headaches and angry passengers.

Technicians had diagnosed the problem by Wednesday evening. However, the system was still being tested early Thursday and was not yet up and running again, said airline spokeswoman Andrea Huguely. She said she couldn't estimate when the system would be working again or how many passengers had been affected.

The glitch on Wednesday led to the delay of 48 flights and the cancellation of five more. Thousands of customers had to leave their luggage behind and hope it would be delivered later.

I realize this is probably a lowest bidder situation and all, but one thing I've noticed is that companies are relying on some very old software. When we recently bought a couch at a furniture chain we like, I noticed that the terminal and software used was a kind of antique, running something common for the mid-1990s. When I had a vehicle worked on, the repair shop had some very old looking proprietary software and the ever-present dot-matrix printer stitching away. Not everyone upgrades relentlessly. Maybe it's me, but I think there's a lot of junk out there still running, and in the Vista world, how much longer can someone keep operating that old stuff?


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