System Down! Lessons Learned from Aviation’s IT Issues

It’s safe to say it was a bad summer for aviation IT. From Southwest Airlines’ router breakdown that grounded their fleet to Delta’s costly $150 million computer outage and British Airways’ undisclosed computer “glitch” in early September, airlines’ IT systems wreaked havoc for their business and passengers.


While frustration with airlines is nothing new, it’s typically the result of delayed flights, missing baggage, or maybe a snarky customer service rep. Yet when major airlines struggle to cope with massive technology malfunctions and its repercussions, it’s time to consider the reliability of your business’s IT systems. Are you prepared if a glitch brings your infrastructure down or if your operations center goes dark?


We gathered the top lessons learned from aviation IT’s troublesome summer to help you prepare for the worst:


Reach out to customers

In today’s tech landscape, many customers turn to their mobile devices to access accounts and contact customer service. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you if you are aware of the access issue; take the initiative and let them know as soon as possible that you’re working on the problem. Social media and email is a great way to update your client base about what is going on in real time.


Keep communication simple

Stick to the adage: Less is more. Don’t create long, rambling messages to customers and employees detailing every point of the problem. Keep it short and to the point, sharing only the most relevant information.


Have a backup plan

Repairing major IT systems back online after a crash is an enormous task, so prepare a contingency plan to keep business operations running while repairs are happening. Include protocols for IT staff and communication strategy for customer support teams to keep customers informed while systems are brought back online.


Practice contingency procedures

A backup plan is virtually worthless if no one knows the procedures. Review and, if possible, practice the ins and outs of the contingency plan to verify everyone involved knows what to do. A well-defined plan ensures the IT issue is handled efficiently, and with the least amount of disruption for customers.


Your IT systems are crucial to your business success. In an increasingly connected technology landscape, ensuring your systems and teams are equipped to respond to a breakdown is a simple step to protect your organization. Take a page from Delta, Southwest and British Airways’ book: always be prepared.

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