With all the flights that United operates each day, is 15 really that big of a deal?
Most times I won’t cover stories that are picked up by the mainstream media, but I couldn’t help myself with this one. Yesterday late afternoon, United experienced a computer outage at their Phoenix facility. If you read most of the stories on this you would have thought hundreds of flights were cancelled and many lives were ruined.
According to the AP, the power outages lead “to widespread cancellations Friday night,” creating, “thousands of stranded travelers.” Hmm really? Well Friday night saw 15 flights cancelled and then today there have been an additional 16. United operates over 3000 flights per day and 15 out of 3000 would not really be my definition of “widespread.” Yes, many folks were delayed and still inconvenienced but the world was still spinning. I think when thunderstorms rolled through Chicago recently more flights were cancelled than this.
Of course, this matters more to someone if you are one of the stranded people. It just is troublesome when it seems the airline industry gets unfairly picked on when they are operating the most complex transportation system in the world. This is a multifaceted business and when you have an airline operating over 3000 flights and managing almost 700 aircraft, things will go wrong — that is just the nature of the business. It seems most people are willing to forgive other businesses that are far less complex for their mistakes, but rarely the airline business.
When I am frustrated by the airlines I try to stop and remember two things: 1) Lois CK video on airlines and 2) What my trip would have been like just 100 years ago. Things can always be worse.