As Delta Issues Travel Voucher Over Outage, Attention Turns to Technology

Flight board the day of the Delta outage. // Photo by Ruthanne Terrero
Flight board the day of the Delta outage. // Photo by Ruthanne Terrero

Delta has announced that it will provide $200 in travel vouchers to all customers who experienced a delay of greater than three hours or a cancelled flight as a result of Monday’s systemwide outage. The vouchers are available for travel on all Delta and Delta Connection-operated flights.

The power outage, which struck Monday morning, caused a ground stop that cancelled hundreds of flights and a ripple effect of delays throughout the system. 

In addition to the travel voucher, Delta has also issued a travel waiver for affected customers. According to the latest update on Delta’s website, travelers who had a flight canceled or significantly delayed due to the outage are entitled to a refund. Travelers whose flights were not canceled can also make a one-time change without fee. The waiver applies to flights departing August 8 or 9, and the new ticket must be reissued on or before August 12 for rebooked travel to begin no later than August 12. 

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What Went Wrong

The outage, which is the second major disruption in a month following Southwest’s recent outage, has caused experts around the aviation industry to take stock of the technology behind the glitch. 

According to an analysis in the Associated Press, airlines operate on an amalgamation of old, specialty systems of varying ages that have been bolted together as a result of different airline mergers over the past several years. Delta’s system was developed as a joint venture with Northwest and TWA in the 1990s. Rising traffic has put additional strain on the system — Delta’s traffic nearly doubled over the past decade. 

“These old legacy systems are operating much larger airlines that are being accessed in many, many more ways,” Daniel Baker, CEO of tracking service FlightAware.com, told the AP. “It has really been taxing.”

Charlie Leocha, the chairman and co-founder of airline consumer advocacy group Travelers United, told the Charlotte Observer that, while federal rules have addressed airline safety, marketing, tarmac delays, overbooking and disability access, no rules cover the kind of situation that led to Monday’s outage. 

“There really are no customer service rules or mandates,” Leocha told the Charlotte Observer.

Did you or one of your clients get caught in Monday’s outage? Share your stories in the comments below. 

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