From 2.5 hours to 25 hours. Poor collaboration leads to a long flight home.

Recently I had to travel from the East Coast to the midwest (US) – a simple 2-1/2 hour flight.  Yeah, right!  Read on to see if you’ve experienced travels worse than mine.


First, I arrived at the airport early, hoping to go standby so that I could get home early to see my sick child.  After sitting through 3 flights, I finally resigned myself to the fact I was going home on my original flight.  So, flight time has arrived and an announcement is made - there is a mechanical problem and a part has to be flown in from another airport.  Flight delayed for 2 hours.  After two hours, another announcement is made – the part was not available and the flight is canceled.  Question: How could the airline NOT know – 2 hours earlier - that the part was not available?  OK, not a big deal.  Just get on another flight.


Cost controls, camouflage khakis compound confusion
Called my company’s travel agent who had a choice of putting me on a direct flight that left in 30 minutes ($700) versus a connecting flight ($170).  As with any large company that needs to control costs, you can probably guess which flight was “chosen” for me.  With my rather large luggage in tow (I had been traveling for a week and thus opted to bring a larger bag than a carry-on sort.  Going standby meant I had to have my bag with me), I had to go to another terminal to catch my connecting flight.  When I got to this terminal, all monitors were frozen from 3 hours earlier.  How did I figure this out?  Another lost, dazed, and confused passenger informed me.  No announcements were being made over loudspeakers about this “problem”.  “Fend for yourself” was the mantra in this terminal.  In summary, I had no idea what gate to go to, my flight was leaving in 30 minutes, there was a line about 100 people long for customer service, and I could not discern one airline employee amongst all the people walking around the terminal. (The airline recently – unbeknownst to me – changed their employees’ uniforms to button-down, striped oxfords and khakis. Not exactly a “uniform” that stands out in a crowd.)

I finally “found” an airline employee, who told me what gate to go to. People flying to La Guardia kept coming to this gate, where the attendant had to repeatedly tell them the correct gate to go to.  I finally “suggested” that perhaps it would be a good idea to make an announcement in the terminal regarding the gate for the La Guardia flight.  Pretty simple solution, don’t you think?


Skirting security controls
After arriving in my layover city, I had to go through security - with my huge bag in tow.  Security guy asks me to put my bag in that metal measuring device to see that it fits.  As I start to lift my bag, I realize this is silly – my bag will never fit.   OK, get this.  He asks me to go to a corner, empty out some of my belongings, and then come bag to see if my bag fits.  So I say to him “So, you want me to simply leave some of my belongings in the corner of an international airport, so that my bag can fit?” “Yes,” he says.  Hmmmm.  I politely told him that I was going through …. 


The phantom flight
Much chaos and mayhem in this airport, as all flights into my city of destination have been pushed back due to bad weather.  After being pushed from one flight to the next, I get on an “airplane” 90 minutes later.  This is when the “fun” begins.  Airplane sits on the tarmac for 2 hours. 30 minutes left in the flight.  WE are all told to prepare for landing.  5 minutes later, the pilot announces we are being diverted to another airport because of bad weather – a much smaller airport that has been closed for hours and has no personnel on site. After arriving at this airport, we sit on the plane for 2 hours (until about 1 am – I am getting tired).  After we get off the plane, there is no indication which baggage carousel to go to and we all wait 1 hour for our baggage.  (As a pilot leaves the flight, he mutters “This seems to have been the phantom flight.  Nobody even knew we were up in the air.”)  I get on a bus for a hotel and get to sleep around 3 am.  Have to wake up at 7 am to catch my flight the next morning. Of course, the flight is delayed 90 minutes.

To top it all off, when I get to my car in the airport parking lot, the battery is dead.


How good software could have helped
So why did I want to share this experience?  Because during this entire journey I kept wondering if the airports, airlines, etc. were using great tools from HP’s Operations Center product line or even HP’s BSM stack.  Imagine, for example, if that one terminal were alerted to the fact that all monitors were frozen and automatically kicked off a process (in conjunction with HP Operations Orchestration, of course) to simply announce over the broadcast system that there is a problem with the monitors and then start rattling off gate assignments? 


Or if the security agent that asked me to unload my belongings had some sort of message in his PDA that this was a passenger who had gone standby in a previous airport – and thus “Let her go through.” Or how about something as simple as seeing that a resource is not available (remember the mechanical problem with the first airplane – where we passengers all sat around for 2 hours), so that passengers could have used that time to find other flights. 


There is a lot to be said about proactive monitoring of your systems, which ultimately resides in better customer experiences for your customers.  In my opinion, this day of travel epitomizes the need for any company to proactively monitor and deal with IT problems before they create the negative customers experiences that companies hope to avoid.  And this can all be done with great products like HP Operations Manager and Operations Manager i (OMi).


The case of the missing data
(Epilogue) When I called my airline the following week to get miles for the last leg of my flight, they said the flight was canceled.  After I told the gal 3 times that I was physically sitting on the flight along with many other passengers, her response was “I’m sorry, we have no record of that flight ever taking off.” Yikes!


For HP Operations Center, Sonja Hickey.

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About the Author
Sonja is a Product Marketing Manager for the HP Software Operations Center portfolio of products. She has 19 years of product marketing, pro...

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