10/16/2013

Computer networks are fallible

Like many other organisations in the past, easyJet yesterday had to deal with a major network problem, which did affect Geneva.


The headline on a Web site concerning a major failure of the computer network used for the on-line booking and reservation system was

Easyjet systems failure causes travel chaos across Europe.

During the crash period, lasting two hours from about 3 pm UK time on Tuesday 15 October, it appears that London's Gatwick airport was pretty chaotic. Large queues of sometimes very frustrated people waited as easyJet staff had to try to remember how airports worked a few years ago. There is even a story that staff handed out more boarding passes than there were places on some aircraft, so presumably some passengers had to get off the aircraft (and find their baggage?).

All of this should make us realise how dependent we are on computer networking. As someone who was reasonably expert in this field, I can remember that if ever the CERN network had a crash, the people in their offices found out how little they could do without it, so they all wandered off to the cafeteria. It was actually sometimes quite good to talk to an assortment of people and get a different view on life.

I can also remember, a few years back, when Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday and the system for credit card payments in shops crashed due to an overload. I think that was the last time when shop staff had to get out those old devices which imprinted the card details on a double sheet of paper which we then had to sign. I have to admit that they became pretty efficient pretty quickly, but I don't think that they would want a repeat experience!

20131016_easyjet_teletext.JPGThe news of the problem did make it onto the TV teletext, but I have not seen it mentioned in the Geneva press. The teletext message included a reassurance from the airport that the problem had not had any effect in Geneva. However, I am not quite sure if the passengers on the last evening flight to Gatwick would have concurred with this assessment, since the flight left Geneva after midnight, well over two hours late.

12:06 Posted in easyJet anecdotes, Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: geneva, easyjet, computer, network | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

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