Process Fun of the Week: American Airlines I.T. hitch

Sam Miranda

Following last week's absurdities in the media reporting of Margaret Thatcher's death, it's a return to a more textbook process mishap.

American Airlines cancelled 978 flights between midday and 4:30 PM, Tuesday after a computer conundrum which saw the airline unable to access its Sabre reservation system. In an event that will put a wry smile on the face of every tech cynic, American airlines was unable to process bookings, online boarding passes, ticketing and tracking bags.

Some passengers were paralysed on the runway, whilst thousands were left to camp overnight at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, pouring over the airline's Facebook page for updates.

Sales manager Matt Wyglendowksi summed up passenger frustrations, condemning customer service: "It's ridiculous when you know more about what's going on the ticket people. I got the update on Facebook 20 minutes before they notified people."

In a confusing twist, reservation system provider Sabre insisted it had no network problems, citing the fact its other airline clients - South West and Jet Blue - experienced no difficulties.

The event will cast more scrutiny over American Airlines' 2012 merger with Continental Airlines and its imminent, $11 billion takeover of US Airways. The company has been blighted by technical glitches since the former, leading many to believe expansive business objectives are taking precedence over existing infrastructure.