12/17/2010

When it snows how does the Airport Web site perform?

After the snow which fell on the evening of Thurssday 16 December the Geneva Airport web site was sure to be tested on the Friday morning. My own tests were very revealing, and depressing.


The Geneva airport site, www.gva.ch, inevitably has its heaviest usage, and greatest test, when the weather is bad. Having driven through the snow on the Thursday evening, I knew that the Friday morning would be one such day. Then, when the radio confirmed that the airport would be closed until 9am, I thought that it would be useful to see what this web site could tell me.

My first attempt to contact the site, using my Firefox browser, did manage to get to the site, to a message that, because of the load, only parts of the site were accessible. However, attempts to check on flight departures virtually never worked: when any information came back it was all mixed up, with bits missing or on top of each other. On other occasions I just got a blank page.

OK, let us try the Microsoft way: use Internet Explorer. This was much more explicit: it just declared that

Internet Explorer cannot display the web page

together with a clickable message that said

Diagnose connection problems

but which, when clicked, did nothing for a while and then said that it could not diagnose the problem. Really useful!

OK, let me try with Apple's Safari browser (it exists on Apple Macintosh computers as well as Windows). This was a bit more explicit on its failure to open the web page, with the diagnostic

Safari can’t open the page “http://www.gva.ch/en/desktopdefault.aspx” because the server unexpectedly dropped the connection. This sometimes occurs when the server is busy. Wait for a few minutes, and then try again.

By now I am curious, so I make a last try with the Opera browser, reputedly very fast. This gave me a message that the connection had been closed by the remote server (the airport web site) with the added help

You tried to access the address http://gva.ch/en/desktopdefault.aspx, which is currently unavailable. Please make sure that the web address (URL) is correctly spelled and punctuated, then try reloading the page.

So I finally went back to my original browser, Firefox, and eventually got the initial list of departures. From this I learned that of the first six scheduled departures, one (Swiss to Zurich) had been cancelled, four (easyJet Switzerland were marked as delayed and the last one (easyJet Switzerland to Paris Orly, had no marked status (a ghost flight?).

I also found myself having many questions about what I should do if I were trying to fly today, but that is another (long) story!

Bon voyage.

18:55 Posted in Special days and notable incidents | Permalink | Comments (0) | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

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