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Transportation Technology IT

Airlines Suffer Worldwide Delays After Global Booking System Fails (bloomberg.com) 74

rastos1 writes: Airlines worldwide were forced to delay flights Thursday as a global flight-bookings system operated by Amadeus IT Group SA suffered what the company called a "network issue." Major carriers including British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways were among those reportedly impacted by the outage. Singapore's Changi airport said via Twitter that a technical issue affecting some operators was delaying the check-in process, with boarding passes having to be issued manually. "Amadeus confirms that, during the morning, we experienced a network issue that caused disruption to some of our systems," the Madrid-based company said in a statement. Technical teams took immediate action to identify the cause of the issue and services are "gradually being restored," it said.
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Airlines Suffer Worldwide Delays After Global Booking System Fails

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  • Good news. (Score:1, Funny)

    by msauve ( 701917 )
    I'm happy the slashdot IT team found new jobs so quickly.
    • Re:Good news. (Score:5, Informative)

      by computational super ( 740265 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @09:36AM (#55269243)
      I can't believe this hasn't even been addressed on Slashdot. The site was completely down for two days and they're trying to pretend like nothing happened.
      • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @09:46AM (#55269313) Homepage Journal

        I can't believe this hasn't even been addressed on Slashdot. The site was completely down for two days and they're trying to pretend like nothing happened.

        But putting the servers back to work hosting slashdot seems to have borked the airline booking service.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I doubt that. It's obvious that Slashdot shit the bed. They're probably [still] scrambling to figure out what went wrong, and what to fix first. Sourceforge went down too. According to reports "equipment was fried" - which usually means "just reboot" and "restore from backup" is out of the question. Given the nature of SF, I'd bet that was given priority over Slashdot. It's probably a frantic, understaffed scramble that involves emergency purchases and a sudden, unplanned, total migration of *multiple* pro

        • by jafiwam ( 310805 )
          SD seems to have lost data. The user interface here looks like it did while they were still futzing with it after the purchase. They lost front end HTML and CSS / Script files it seems like.
      • I was wondering when that was going to be discussed. I have not heard any information on what happened and the root cause of the site intermittent availability.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @09:17AM (#55269133) Journal
    In my software engineering course, back in the grad school, the SABRE airline reservation system was a case study. Supposed to be a text book example of how to implement and mange the life cycle of complex software systems. I still have the book Software Engineering by Shooman.

    That would have been 17 Moore's Law generations ago! In human terms, it like looking at the farming methods or weaving techniques or marine navigation procedures or military maneuvers of 1592!

    • In my software engineering course, back in the grad school, the SABRE airline reservation system was a case study. Supposed to be a text book example of how to implement and mange the life cycle of complex software systems. I still have the book Software Engineering by Shooman.

      That would have been 17 Moore's Law generations ago! In human terms, it like looking at the farming methods or weaving techniques or marine navigation procedures or military maneuvers of 1592!

      Back in the day I've dealt with AMADEUS, SABRE and GALILEO. This news sure brings back memories!

    • by rholtzjr ( 928771 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @10:49AM (#55269859) Journal

      I agree, unfortunately by today's standards, the waterfall approach has it's limitations with respect to time to market and R&D costs. SABRE finally did make it away from the mainframe centric architecture (some time in the later 90's) and thus could adopt more modern life cycle management techniques.

      On another note, the SABRE system (American Airlines) was in fact a system that was comprised of the core system originated by Eastern Airlines (named System One) back in the late 70's, early 80's. SABRE and System One added functionality to market these two separate systems to travel agencies who previously had to use telephones to call into an airline reservation centers. System One was later branched off of Eastern Airlines into a separate entity under Continental Holding Co. before Eastern went bankrupt in the early 90's and was later sold to Amadeus. SABRE is still SABRE as far as I know, however Amadeus was the original purchase of System One.

      And how do I know this? That was my first job that got me started down the path of computers as well as my distaste for COBOL after C was standardized in 89.

      There were actually 4 big ones marketed to the travel industry back in the late 80's

      PARS (TWA)

      SABRE (American)

      DatasII (Delta)

      System One (Eastern)

      There were other airlines that utilized similar system, Pan Am had "Panamac" ( I think), Continental/America West/Alaska Airlines had "Shares".

      • by dpalley ( 670276 )
        Actually, the original Sabre system dates back to the 1950's. It was only used internally by AA until the 70's when it was rolled out to travel agencies.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        Dan
        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          And in the '80s they gave access to CompuServe Anyone remember EaasySABRE?

          • Yes, that was the beginning of the "End of the Travel Agency". This is yet another example of a technology advancement that does actually take out other elements of an industry.
        • You are correct that they had there own internal system, however Eastern had the first distributed reservation system that communicated to all major airlines in real time not just their own carrier. So while they may have developed their own internal system, what we see today is NOT entirely their doing.
  • If the whole system is this fragile, it will be more cost-effective to select a stronger platform and development tools, and begin redesigning it now.

    I hear that ADA works very well [adaic.com] for building reliable software that doesn't exhibit surprises or unexpected behavior.

    • Re:Time to replace (Score:4, Interesting)

      by computational super ( 740265 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @09:35AM (#55269229)
      You don't understand the principal rule of managing software projects (according to the MBA's who manage software projects): if anything takes more than a couple of hours to do, it's not worth doing.
      • by emil ( 695 )

        ...until the manager's flight is canceled, and [s]he is standing in an airport full of people in the same situation, including FAA regulators and Rand Paul.

        Then there might be sufficient motivation to refactor.

        • You're attributing much longer memories to them than they seem to have. A co-worker and I were talking about refactoring and tech debt (and why we had so much still floating around) and he made an observation that (to management) tech debt is like a leaky roof. You don't have to fix it when it's not raining.
    • And it doesn't matter what language they're written in , the fragility generally isn't down to a low level language issue such as memory, threading or pointer issues (though obviously those errors happen too), its usually a logic problem in handling edge cases, unexpected code paths and errors correctly. No language is going to save you from broken logic however much their proponents would pretend otherwise.

    • Yes, let's replace a worldwide booking system that for the most part handles 3.7billion passengers every year without issue because of a very occasional outage causing a few queues.

      What could possibly go wrong.

  • by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @09:39AM (#55269277)

    Are these airline information systems really all that fragile in this sector? I know we all say that, but I personally don't have a F clue; I'm 100% media driven on this from what I read, consume or read-between-the-lines. I'm hoping someone close to this could chime in or reply...

    With any one of us with any moderate amount of IT experience in the trenches and at any level that's support any ops or for-profit system, It's hard to dismiss a generic statement such as network issue. I know management I've worked under in the past at other organizations, private and government, would pre-can some huggable and down-played message like that --- and I totally get it; it's embarrassing on any level for any end-user disruption, but we'll never know why.

    With the amount of breaches, DDOS's and what seems like this popular resurrection of using the word 'Hacking' like we are all hoping a Hackers [imdb.com] reunion happens with Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie is just nauseating, but a very true reality anymore with the lack of implementation over security practices.

  • From a person who has had similar international headlines for systems that I can impact. My heart goes out to you. System failures are never fun, failures that affect a lot of customers are just plain stressful. Document processes and learn from this event all the you can. Customers care most what was learned and how to prevent this and future scoped events from occurring again.

    Hang in there!

Mathematicians stand on each other's shoulders. -- Gauss

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