back to article Hundreds stranded at Manchester Airport due to IT 'glitch'

A technical "glitch" at Manchester Airport has left hundreds of passengers stranded for hours this morning. Several airlines were affected including Virgin, SAS, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights. Manchester Airport ascribed the "technical failure" with the check-in system as being due to "an issue with overnight …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    FFS!

    "Switch it off and on again" is a complicated procedure and should only be carried out by people who really

    understand what they're doing. Do NOT switch off power to the building to change a lightbulb.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Do NOT switch off power to the building to change a lightbulb.

      So THAT's where I've been going wrong all these years.

    2. I am the liquor

      Re: FFS!

      As followers of Tom Knight know, turning it of and on again will only work if you truly understand the nature of the problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FFS!

        We reboot Windows often to fix problems; we don't understand the true nature of the problem, but it works,

  2. Kane Silver badge
    WTF?

    Check-in System?

    "— Jenn (@jennyfarfar) June 13, 2017

    Still not taken off been on the plane over an hour now with everyone on board ridiculous"

    If there is an issue with the check-in system, why are people already checked in being held up on the tarmac?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Check-in System?

      If there is an issue with the check-in system, why are people already checked in being held up on the tarmac?

      My guess* is that prior to takeoff, the plane crew get a list of passengers. If the system failed after check-in, but before the ground staff could print off the list, then there would be a hold up.

      * I'll admit that I have no hands-on experience of such things, only as a passenger/observer, so my theory could be totally wrong

    2. Ian Tunnacliffe

      Re: Check-in System?

      Probably because the delays to check-in led to late departures and flights lost their slots in the air traffic system. The airline operations departments and potentially the crews on the flight deck will be trying to negotiate new slots in what is already a highly loaded system. The problem now being that a new slot could be offered at short notice and the only way to be in a position to accept it is to have the passengers on board and the doors shut.

    3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Check-in System?

      Certain destinations require the flight manifest be submitted before take-off so that the passengers can be pre-screened. Changes to the manifest after take-off can incur significant charges and delays (ie "we won't let you land until we've checked out everyone on board").

      If they're unable to send the passenger manifest to the destination airport, they're not going to just take off and circle until the paperwork is done.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Check-in System?

        I've never understood "Check-in"

        Other modes of transport have tickets. You buy a ticket , you get on the bus / train

        Why cant we do that?

        Nowadays you have "Check in at home!" up to 2 weeks before - that completely rules out all of the theories i had about what "check in" was . I Foolishy thought it might be something to do with confirming you'd turned up.

        Now im even more lost.

        Can somebody tell me what possible benefit / point of "check in online" is?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Check-in System?

          "Why cant we do that?"

          Because once the flight's overbooked it's much less messy to block surplus passengers at check-in then to turf them off the plane. Just ask United.

        2. oknop

          Re: Check-in System?

          https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/26677/what-is-the-purpose-of-check-in-before-flying

        3. Ian Tunnacliffe

          Re: Check-in System?

          Actually this is a very good question and one that the airline industry is discussing seriously today. There are several key functions bundled up into the process we call "check-in" today. One of them is the issuance of a boarding pass. This is usually the document (paper or electronic) that indicates an entitlement to pass into the secured area of the airport. That requirement isn't going to change in the near future. Then there is seat assignment. In the modern world many seats are allocated well in advance (often at a charge) and there is no firm requirement for this to happen at the same time as BP issuance. However it is still part of the airport process because there may be need to make adjustments at the last minute eg because of aircraft changes, seats going unserviceable and delays to inbound connections. Then there is baggage acceptance and bag tag issuance. There is no logical need for this to happen at the same time and place as the other bits but on the whole people don't like to wait in multiple queues so historically they have been done together. And then there is the requirement to send information to third parties, primarily governments but also airlines providing connecting flights and sometimes downline airports.

          Historically it made sense to do all these things together in a single process called "check-in". With the technology, security and other changes that have occurred over the last few years it may no longer do so. IATA is currently engaged in defining a new standard for managing the airline booking and delivery process. This is called ONE Order (careful with the capitalisation) and the aim is to change airline procedures which involve separate records for bookings (Passenger Name Records, PNRs) and payment (Tickets) and moving towards a retail-style arrangement of a single order that covers both types of information. As part of this effort the whole process of delivering flight services at the airport and beyond is being reviewed.

          As always with multilateral initiatives involving hundreds of players in multiple jurisdictions and different business priorities the process is slow but there should be a beta release of the ONE Order standard at the end of this year. After that it will be up to individual airlines and groups of airlines to implement the changes so don't hold your breath but over the next few years we should see significant changes in airport processes and the end to the traditional check-in.

          Of course airlines that sit outside the IATA-defined processes like Ryanair have the ability to make some of the changes more quickly, basically because they don't have to coordinate with all of their partner companies. They will probably be faster to streamline airport processes.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Check-in System?

      The same systems (and connectivity) are generally used at check-in and at the boarding gates.

      If the system's down, you can't scan boarding passes, and you can't print manifests or load sheets (some of which are generated after the last passenger has boarded). No paperwork, no flight...

  3. Ian Tunnacliffe

    As usual the media (including El Reg) tells us almost nothing about the nature of the outage. Based on the diverse spread of airlines impacted I would surmise that it is the common-user front end system that has had problems rather than the departure control systems of the airlines involved. The common user system at Manchester is (from memory) MUSE from ARINC (Now part of Rockwell-Collins). I imagine there are people awake in Annapolis already this morning.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Probably because the airport/airlines haven't released details of the exact nature of the outage and therefore any information in the article would be pure speculation. Also, it's not like airlines would tell the truth anyway (see the recent BA cockup).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, however in this instance, with only certain airlines affected, it was a failure of WAN connectivity impacting the shared WAN connection used by those airlines.

      I understand (from very good sources) that SITA performed some an overnight change on their WAN connection into Manchester...Everything was restored when they rolled back this change

      1. Ian Tunnacliffe

        It would be unlikely to be SITA in this case since Manchester is an ARINC customer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Whilst ARINC are the Common Use provider at Manchester, the airline WAN connectivity will be provided by a number of distinct providers - including SITA, as well as ARINC themselves, and other airlines directly managing their own connections backed by local telcos...

          If multiple airlines have failed, it's either a partial failure of the ARINC system at Manchester, or a failure of either the SITA or ARINC connectivity at Manchester...

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Patito

    Indian or Romanian support?

    What we would like to know if the support of the IT for this was in some kind of low cost / 3rd world country

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Indian or Romanian support?

      Romanians are pretty good, it's the Indians that are completely f****g useless.

  6. hi_robb

    Erm

    Don't just fook it, Thomas Cook it.

  7. adam payne Silver badge

    What's the betting it's a single point of failure again?

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Any airport is a single point of failure.

      Not to mention a nightmare.

  8. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Twhingers"

    Is Twitter only now used as a way for people to whinge at the PR depts of companies when they have some minor grievance, all in the hope their little whinge will get them on the BBC website? I've yet to see any tangible benefit Twitter has for mankind. A right load "Twhingers" all "Twhinging" about nothing most of the time!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Twhingers"

      "Is Twitter only now used as a way for people to whinge at the PR depts of companies when they have some minor grievance"

      Given that in most businesses customer facing staff are powerless to deal with the most minor complication, not even having the ability to escalate it, it looks as if Twitter is just about the only way of getting the attention of anyone in the business with any nous* this looks as if it's becoming SOP. It's yet one more instance of making the customer do the work, in this case escalating a case.

      *Assuming such a person exists

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Twhingers"

      Many companies (Hertz, United Airlines, Natwest bank, to name a few) no longer respond to email or phone calls, so the only way to reach them is to contact the 19 year old work experience student on Twitter.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: "Twhingers"

        Many companies (Hertz, United Airlines, Natwest bank, to name a few) no longer respond to email or phone calls, so the only way to reach them is to contact the 19 year old work experience student on Twitter.

        And that is precisely why some companies no longer have me as their customer. I suppose it won't be too long until there are no more companies left not doing it and I will start saving money.

  9. Doogie Howser MD
    FAIL

    Dick, I'm Very Disappointed

    "You call *this* a glitch?!"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of this going on of late, there's a good conspiracy theory in there somewhere.

  11. Faszination
    Trollface

    Surprising...

    Thomas Cook travellers were most widely affected - I'm astonished their customers who actually were delayed could drag themselves out of Wetherspoons away from their full English and pint of Carling long enough to tweet their displeasure.

    1. RogerT

      Re: Surprising...

      I suspect they frequented Wetherspoons to make use of the internet so that they could tweet their displeasure.

      My experience of Gatwick last year was that they had the only usable internet.

      I will also add that tweeting seems to be the only way to get a quick response (minutes as opposed to days) from a transportation organisation.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fallout flak from the recent BA meltdown?

    If only.

    Anon because I care.

  13. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Prediction: Some clever young thing decided that the change was too simple to require testing and deployed straight from desktop to production environment sans QA.

    1. TkH11

      Re: Bah!

      I have worked on too many systems where the test environment is missing key applications (licensing costs) and does not represent the live system closely enough, hence there is greater risk.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is always a 'glitch' , in that way no one is to blame for it, just one of those things..glitches happen...nobody's fault...

    1. Robert Forsyth

      It is better to get it fixed than apportion blame and lose the source of any information.

  15. mikecoppicegreen

    Problems?

    It did not appear to be the airport systems that had a problem, I flew from there on Lufthansa this morning and (apart from the crowds of Thomas Cook Passengers) it was about the same as usual!

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