Delays in the Airline Industry Due to IT System Issues on the Rise

With the rise and widespread use of information technology globally, it was only a matter of time until these systems would cause problems to the public. One of these rising problems revolves around the airline business and keeping customers moving from point a to point b. The article published by Forbes states the rise in technology related outages has rose unevenly from 2007 to 2015. This is due to the fact of IT problems on the rise and very difficult to fix immediately because of the complexity. A single outage in the airline IT business can causes issues for customers expecting to catch a flight at the time on their ticket. This has caused customers to lose trust in certain airlines and even leading to customers not booking with that airline again.


Some of the technological problems have occurred due to the carriers switching to different web based products causing glitches within their database. This has happened with multiple airlines. Delta being one of the domestic companies affected had to come out and apologize for the issues within their IT systems although it didn’t affect any flights or the safety if passengers. These problems will only to continue to get worse due to the way airlines spend their money and don’t put funds into redeveloping old technology systems. There is a commonality of airlines waiting until there is an actual issue before going ahead and upgrading their systems.


Due to the complex nature of the airline technological supply chain, a break in the chain can lead to issues elsewhere from the flight scheduling to the reservation systems. Stated in the Forbes article, “the weak point in the chain... [are] humans” simply because employees can’t be trained to “monitor the system or to ward of cybercrime.”


Information technology problems in the airspace industry is tough for everyone. Not only does it directly affect customers, it also hurt the trust and public image of airline conglomerates. If customers don’t trust your airline they turn elsewhere, which if a company continues to have problems they are losing out on revenue and losing customers to direct competition. In a time where IT is growing at an alarming pace, airline companies must keep their systems up to date so they don’t have delays for their customers or issues in the flight supply chain.


As a pretty frequent flyer, I’m irritated when I have a delay that affects my travel or even leads to missing a connecting flight. Which for most people, they will experience this in life if they haven’t already. I was a victim of this, in Europe my flight from Prague to Paris wasn’t scanning tickets so they couldn’t board the plane, then they changed to a different gate however the flight was behind schedule and had to delay later. Ultimately we didn’t get to leave and they issued a refund, not tickets for a different flight. This sucked because the following days flight was significantly more expensive and pretty much sold out.


In a published Seattle Times post, it talks on the topic of computer problems within United that caused nationwide delays. This caused 80 United flights to be delayed in Chicago, along with another 100 plus combined from other airports. Some flights left as late as two hours after the scheduled time, all because of a IT issues in the flight plan computer database. These issues arising are all due to drastic changing practices with IT systems and the way their systems all work together. It’s only getting worse and only going to affect even more flyers when these systems go down.

Video on recent Delta delays: