back to article Another day, another British Airways systems screwup causes chaos

British Airways is getting its grovelling in early after a systems crash caused chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick airports earlier this morning. The outage affected check-in desks at both the main London airports as well as the minor bizjet destination at London City Airport, with the inevitable hundreds of angry passengers taking …

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"If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

Theory : Because BA are a penny pinching, outsourcing, offshoring, miserly, disorganised shower of shite?

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Anonymous Coward

"If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

Coding, Indian.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

"Coding, Indian"

I wouldn't use Indian in the pejorative. I prefer to think of it as "Coding, yes man, from a part of the world where horrible bosses* are still a thing, and where the words 'don't know how to do this,' are pretty much verboten". Should absolutely not be underestimated as will work all hours and sleep at the office in order to get on. Pity really, as the raw material isn't bad at all. Not just India either. Africa is on the up and up. This is the relentless force that competes with us for our jobs. We must therefore be smarter/stronger/faster to justify our pay and requirement for some sort of life outside of the job. Idiocy like today's incident does of course help.

* Yes, we have our share of horrible bosses, along with rights, a safety net and not having to worry about healthcare for our families. Makes for more creative people who give a fuck.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

Yeah but look - Indian coders are particularly good at producing the most "impressive code" they can. Which means pages upon pages of over complex spaghetti crap that barely works at the best of times / but hey it looks like they put a lot of effort in. Yes I'm generalising / but it is true by and large.

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Re: "If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

I guess the smartest Indians get jobs in countries that pay higher salaries, or start their own companies. If you are paying Rs10lk (£11,875 or $15,700) per year, you are not going to get the best people.

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Re: "If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

And if you could get the best people, it'd cost as much (or more) than it does as hiring your own employees and nobody would bother offshoring.

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Re: "If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

"And if you could get the best people, it'd cost as much (or more) than it does as hiring your own employees and nobody would bother offshoring."

The only time you should ever consider outsourcing your core business(*) is when you need to get rid of large numbers of staff(**) and have no other options.

(*) An airline is a massive IT and logistical operation which happens to fly aircraft and the aircraft can be wetleased.

(**) EG: when you have twice as many as are actually needed thanks to featherbedding management not being detected for a decade or so, or when a change in technology would cause massive redundancies but the staff won't have it(***)

(***) EG: shipbuilding - it was refusal to move to modern methods that killed UK yards - the workers in Japan were actually better-paid than the UK ones, but produced 10-15 times more output.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: "Cost"

A very long time ago, Gartner pointed out that management need to consider "Total Cost of Ownership" for IT systems.

*

So, getting a half price programming team and cutting this year's staff budget might not actually work out cheaper in the long run......see this article for evidence.

*

Clearly the management at BT don't subscribe to Gartner.....or don't care!!!!

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Because BA Are.....

Awwww, you're just guessing.

Although the theory does seem to fit the facts.......

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Re: "If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

To be fair, it doesn't take that long to fly from India to London. BA has plenty of direct flights.

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Please stop insulting showers of shite.

They improve everything that benefits from fertilizer.

"BA management are a penny pinching, outsourcing, offshoring, miserly, disorganised pack of massively overpaid mental cripples" would be a more accurate statement.

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"Although informed sources came up with plausible theories about what happened, the actual cause has not been acknowledged by British Airways."

ISTR reading that BA recently said they wouldn't make the full explanation for that public. I think a visit to the relevant HoC Select Committee must be in the offing.

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Joke

"If you know why BA's shonky IT keeps going to sleep in the mornings...."

Someone set the system timezone wrongly and it thinks it's somewhere in the western US?

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Anonymous Coward

As databases like Oracle and SQL Server started using TIMESTAMP WITH TIMEZEONE data types instead of the basic date datatypes, more of the older DB developers got very confused and spent days trying to fathom out why jobs wouldn't run at the time they specified not realising about the use of daylight savings in relation to TWT and schedulers.

Once found a system that would fail to run ultra-critical jobs at exactly 2 points during the year. Found out some muppet set the time to run at the exact moment the clocks skip the hour as they change, the scheduler wasn't intelligent enough to know and it just skipped all the system critical jobs.

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"Found out some muppet set the time to run at the exact moment the clocks skip the hour as they change"

Nobody could do that by accident. That muppet got you good on his last day in the office :)

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Well, those Frenchie air traffic controllers going on strike at critical UK holiday times seems to have competition !!!

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WTF?

Because of course it's only people in the UK who have holidays in the summer. Strikes by French air traffic control staff don't affect people going to France in the summer from other countries or French people flying to other countries for their holidays do they?

It's not all about the UK you know!

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Anonymous Coward

How difficult would it be to outsource air traffic control?

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It already has been...

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Anonymous Coward

band kee koshish kee aur par?

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Kiki the Kangaroo, is that you?

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Anonymous Coward

Offshoring your core IT - what a f-ing stupid thing to do. Bean counters should be offshored not IT.

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Anonymous Coward

Be careful what you wish for.

It is all about economics not IT.

Where do you get your wages from? A UK firm supplying a foreign customer? Do your UK customers get their money from the UK only. If Johnny foreigner stops buying British you won't have a job, though at least our Bae supplied kit won't be used to kill innocents in Yemen etc.

IT is not economics. Outsourcing is just buying foreign services. How many imported goods do you buy?

Why are you outsourcing your holiday by going abroad instead of staying in the UK? The money you spend abroad is needed here. What's wrong with sitting in a beach café watching the rain fall eating greasy burgers and chips? (Me, as I write this )

I do agree that outsourcing and offshoring is a stupid idea. I've dealt with foreign bean counters so know they can be worse, so that won't work. Why send our jobs abroad when we don't make anything of worth in the UK, we need people working here to keep the economy going

Instead of complaining about losing to the competition insist on your suppliers buying British because after Brexit it will only get worse. ( Yes, I was against Brexit and I'm not a Tory, so I won't respond to discussions on that subject. )

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

Of course offshoring the bean counters would also be bad - I was just making a point. Still bean counting is a lower skill than IT in many ways.

Of course it's about economics - duh - false economics.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

are you drunk?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

I know you were only making a point, I agree with you.

Besides, bean counters will soon be the only ones needing to fly on business. Maybe they can keep this country afloat.

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Trollface

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

Hey , why dont you paranoid Anonymous Cowards stfu? when you have several anonymous people shouting its very difficult to tell who said what to who. So how's about you man up and identify yourselves?

If you are really that scared to unmask in public , maybe you could write something in the body to indicate who or what you are talking about.

note the Troll icon :P

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Re: Be careful what you wish for.

Nice long post. I assume you are immune from being offshored especially as you talk of economics. They should offshore finance departments FIRST. Then see if it works.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

Prst V Jeltz -

I think I love you - there work out which one of us said that!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

To Ritey,

I've got twenty plus years in IT behind me. My role was outsourced and then offshored twice. I don't work in finance though I did study it and economics a long time ago.

To Prst V.Jeltz

I now offshore roles for a living which is why I'm an AC. Sorry but that's life, I try to be good to those sent for slaughter.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

Don't worry, we know who you are; comrade.

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Re: Be careful what you wish for.

"I now offshore roles for a living" that says it all....

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Unhappy

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

"Why are you outsourcing your holiday by going abroad instead of staying in the UK?"

Because it rains all the time!

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Re: Be careful what you wish for.

" Outsourcing is just buying foreign services."

Foreign?

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Re: Be careful what you wish for.

Tell me about it...

Just got back from 3.5 days of shock solid rain out of 7...

One whole day it only rained a little..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful what you wish for.

Usually.

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I feel sorry

for the poor frontline people who have to bear the brunt of customer wrath for something they have no control over.

Last time we came back from a trip, the plane was late because of weather conditions and there was no way we could make our connection flight (it left a minute before we touched down).

We were very worried upon our arrival at Heathrow, but ab-so-lutely everything had already been taken care of. There was someone waiting at the Arrivals area after border controls. He was very nice, checked his clipboard, found our names and told us where to go to register for a free hotel night and arrangements for the next day. The desk personnel were totally charming and helpful and we were whisked off to the Sofitel with everything we needed to ensure that we had a good night's sleep and were on time the next day for our new flight. Our luggage was similarly taken care of, but I don't think it slept on a nice bed :).

No hassle, no panic, no fees, everything fine and with a smile.

That's what I call service.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I feel sorry

Similar experience here. Family holiday flight out to Florida was badly delayed partly due to a combination of technical, weather and cock-ups. Once they'd decided we weren't flying far that day vouchers and the Hilton were quickly provided. On top of which the BA response to my claim under EU flight delay rules was dealt with immediately without any challenge even though they might have argued the original cause was weather related and therefore out of scope.

On my honeymoon they also provided champagne on the flight out when they heard.

PR like that is hard to earn. Now if they can stop wasting their reputation and get their IT right everything would be good,

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Re: I feel sorry

Indeed. Screw-ups are inevitable.

But the customer service side you should ensure always works.

My beef with most companies I have run-ins with is not that they messed up, it's that they can't do customer service. If you think of it as "customer retention" (because you don't need customer service while everything works well and is obvious and they don't need to ask questions), then it takes on a different meaning.

I don't care if the previous table is slow to leave the restaurant, there's nothing you or I can reasonably do about that. But you CAN make sure I'm kept informed, politely told what's happening, provide me with a seat for my elderly grandmother in the meantime, keep coming back and apologising and giving me updates, etc. Even saying "Sorry for the wait, sir, we'll knock a bit off the bill." You think that COSTS you money to do? No. It retains the customer long-term, for a tiny, tiny imperceptible change in the spreadsheet.

I honestly don't care that people screw up. We all do. It's what you DO ABOUT THAT that matters. Not just in terms of fixing it, or making sure it doesn't happen again, but what about me, here, now, the person affected by it?

Too many companies ignore that and then wonder why they get no loyalty, no support from their customers, and don't make as much as other places, or get laughed at when they refer to themselves as a quality brand.

I could go into the Royal Hilton tomorrow, or The Ritz, as a customer and find something wrong. I guarantee it. But they would know how to handle it so that I didn't care. They'd go out of their way to change it for me, most likely. It's not "the customer is always right" it's "that guy over there who's upset about something minor is several hundred / thousand pounds walking out of the door". Until what they are asking is going to cost you anywhere near that, it's really not worth the bad PR.

P.S. this is another reason that Amazon are killing the high street. If I need to return something because it's broken, they often post out another one before I've ever been given the details to send it back to. They don't care why or ask questions beyond "So you're not happy with it? No problem." They just do things, for the customer, without question.

Customer service is something you spend money on. And it's also something that, done badly, costs you even more money. I've literally had an argument with Bensons For Beds, where a pair of beds arrived without DOZENS of the parts necessary to assemble. One was fine and complete (so I knew what I was looking for), the other was missing half the parts, from its sealed box, that was delivered unopened. And it was random bits, from a sealed bag, so not a theft, or a con, literally just mis-packaged.

It took me HOURS and HOURS on the phone, dealing with every nonsense imaginable from "but I can only send the parts to the billing address" (WHAT GOOD IS THAT? I'M BLOODY STANDING AT THE DELIVERY ADDRESS, BELIEVE IT OR NOT!), phoning my (hospital worker) girlfriend at work repeatedly to get her to "verify" what bits were missing (I told them not to, apparently they "needed" the billholder to agree, despite the fact we weren't paying anything! And how does she knows what bits she's missing, she's in work! She yelled at them too, told them to go away and do whatever I ask), all kinds of "sorry, sir, data protection" nonsense (I work in IT, please don't try to explain the DPA to me, especially when you're using it as an excuse to not send me some replacement bits, which had nothing to do with data whatsoever). I must have spoken/yelled to 5 people, over the course of 4 hours, to get a pack of screws, dowels and little plastic bits sent to me after paying hundreds of pounds for beds. The little plastic bag came on the back of a TRUCK, I kid you not. I've never used them since.

Nobody can possibly justify that hassle, when they could have just used their brain and said "Oh, that's not good. No, I'll send someone right over with another bag of components. Oh, you want to collect, sure!" Hell, for good customer service, I've had people hold DIY stores open past closing time JUST FOR ME. That's service. It's no skin off their nose (the store was probably staffed and stocking until the early hours anyway). But it helped me out.

Customer service is the solution to "Oh, bugger, we messed up."

Denying customer service is just saying "Oh, we messed up, gah, who cares?"

My question really is: The system screws up. So you're telling me there's no way for someone to get a list of what flights/passengers SHOULD be going out (surely you have to register these on some kind of roster anyway?) to the guy at the front-line, who - if he has to work from paper photocopies that have been faxed over - should be able to make some progress, no? I know a lot of airport stuff is online nowadays, but you're telling me you can't get a redundant system such that each flight worth TENS OF THOUSANDS can operate, even if the poor frontliners have to think on their feet and work over a phone line rather than the computer?

Customer service is an expense. Why people think it's not worth AT LEAST as much as sales, I can't fathom. Sales people are approaching randoms who might never want to use your company. Customer service is about people who are ALREADY using your company and will likely continue to if you do it well. Just because there's not a box on a spreadsheet for "Money saved because we were nice to people and they continued to use us", doesn't mean it shouldn't be accounted for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I feel sorry

I couldn't have put it better myself. I hope you are in a position of power in a company.

Upset customers tell everyone of their poor experience, how many people rave about good service? While studying marketing I was told that one upset customer costs you seven times more in sales than one happy customer. It's hard enough to find customers why throw away that effort and expense?

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Re: I feel sorry

^ This. A thousand times this. And a thousand times more.

Hell, I would generally even settle for just basic communication. But waaaaay too many companies just ignore customers.

Flight delayed? Let's hide the staff - sod talking to the people who actually have already paid for the service and letting them know what's going on.

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Facepalm

Re: I feel sorry

@Lee D Aaaaand breathe! :)

Also upvote for that rant as I completely agree. People mess up all the time, no one is perfect. What really counts is how you deal with the mess up. I will go back to a company that sorts things out well but not one that couldn't care less or deliberately antagonises me (as per the script monkeys you dealt with at B4Beds).

We bought a new AEG/Electrolux cooker hood from John Lewis and it was missing the mounting screws from inside the several layers of completely sealed packaging. An oopsie in the packing dept but needed sorting quickly as the installer was coming in a couple of days. Called JL who just routed the call to Electrolux as they already have my money thanks. Electrolux then spend about half an hour of my phone bill figuring out in detail which bits are missing then promising to send them out.

The installer came and went - he managed to get a tidy job done without the missing bits in question as he used some spares he had.

About 8 days later a large box arrived from Electrolux. It contained a complete new set of the manuals and bags of screws etc (the box was 20% full or 80% empty depending on your outlook). It was also missing the three required mounting screws I needed. Icon ->

The only thing Electrolux got right was quietly adding me to their Spam list so the email I created for them got deleted rather promptly after. A complete cluster fuck of arse spanners of an organisation.

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Flame

Re: I feel sorry

"I feel sorry for the poor frontline people who have to bear the brunt of customer wrath for something they have no control over."

Welcome to Desktop Support

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Re: I feel sorry

You actually got good customer service from BA???

Not really sure I believe this story to be honest...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I feel sorry

Hey Paul I promise it is true. I've been married a long time though.

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Re: I feel sorry

"Just because there's not a box on a spreadsheet for "Money saved because we were nice to people and they continued to use us", doesn't mean it shouldn't be accounted for."

It is. Accountants call it "goodwill" and it's a substantial part of most company bottom lines.

When an ongoing concern is sold, it's the part of the sale price that isn't accounted for by the assets.

The problem is invariably that management/sales don't get "goodwill" when they come up with their harebrained scams to save money - bringing up "goodwill impact" with accountants is always worthwhile if you think that PHB is doing something incredibly stupid.

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Unhappy

Re: I feel sorry

I very much agree with you that Customer Service should have custormer retention at its core.

What I hate is something I have been through recently where, after reporting problems to the technical team of an organisation, with no reply, I finally reached out to Customer Service to see if they could do anything. The reply was, as you might expect, along the lines of "here are the complaint procedures" and suggested lack of interest and came across as "Here's the Black Hole we point nuisances to"

When there are alternative suppliers, vendors or providers of services readily available it is easy to walk, but we all ahve a lot of time and practice invested in preferred products. To be treated casully by Customer dis-Services is at the least galling. Whether it is always worth switching supplier/product is another question and depends on your level of irritation after some solemn reflection.

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Re: I feel sorry

You were obviously not flying Qantas.

I was on a flight that was diverted by bad weather in the mid afternoon several years ago.

About an hour after the curfew at the original destination Skippy advised via a PA announcement that all passengers from our flight would be provided accommodation and to wait for your name to called.

At about 12:30am they started shutting down the "service" desk and were stunned when five other passengers and I walked up and said "and what about us". About 1am the co-worker passenger I was traveling with noticed an old lady, probably in her late 80s, sitting off to one side looking very confused and went and asked her if she was on our flight. She was.

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Anonymous Coward

BA think they're competing with RyanAir

This seems relevant:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/british-airways-brilliant-example-how-cost-cutting-costs-jackson

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BA think they're competing with RyanAir

If I wanted to be abused by RyanAir, I would fly with them.

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