August 28, 2012 The Great United Computer Crash
On or about 1pm on 8/28/12 I went on to UA.com to see if the upgrades had started clearing for my flights this weekend. Well…I couldn’t get into my account, and then UA.com shut down completely. Outside of this being annoying and UA losing some revenue from people unable to book this is not a huge problem. However, apparently all of United’s computers are down this is a huge problem.
Airlines as backwards as they are rely on computers for their daily operations. Beyond the seat assignments and upgrades, the computers do all of the flight planning, load management, and communicate with ATC and the FAA. Now all of this can be done by hand but it is very difficult. Agents can’t pull up tickets to see if passengers are even on the flight. Flight plans have to be generated by hand and physically filed with the FAA. Pilots have to do the entire load planning by hand insuring the plane within proper weight and balance specifications. Now, United has some method for getting flights off. They have stated that some international flights originating outside of the U.S. will use a “backup” system.
But as I am writing this, the website is back up so at least people were not inconvenienced for more than an hour or so.