Delta’s IT Systems Down, All Flights Delayed

Delta’s IT systems went down overnight. Delta couldn’t send out flights that had boarded presumably because they couldn’t push flight plans or calculate required fuel. They couldn’t check passengers in for new flights. Customer service lines started snaking around airports.

IT staff everywhere no doubt had their emergency phones ringing and those on site furiously turned the power off and on hoping that a reboot would fix things.

Fortunately there are reports around 6:30am Eastern that some of Delta’s internal systems are already back up. And there are reports of customers being checked in for flights manually.

So far the most significantly affected routes have been US redeyes, and Europe and Asia inbound flights. The morning bank of flights is only just now being delayed, although rumors that flights could restart around 7 a.m. Eastern turned out to be too hopeful and many East Coast departures are now showing 7:45 a.m. departure times which really means that’s their next update time.

Delta could get lucky with the timing of the IT outage happening in the wee hours of morning, if they do bring up systems quickly, and will deserve great credit for that. Odds on this will be a very bad Delta travel day no matter what happens from here.

We can expect Delta to face significant delays throughout the day with aircraft out of position and much of the work to push out flights backed up. And the longer the outage continues, the more than flights tomorrow and even the day after could face second and third order problems as well.

I feel badly for the travelers inconvenienced by this of course. It’s tough to feel badly for Delta, and suspect they could use a dose of humility since it’s pride in their on-time airline operation that leads them to think they’re so good they can treat customers and competitors with disdain.

Update 7:15am Eastern: The IT issues are being attributed to an Atlanta power outage.

A power outage in Atlanta, which began at approximately 2:30 a.m. ET, has impacted Delta computer systems and operations worldwide, resulting in flight delays. Large-scale cancellations are expected today. All flights enroute are operating normally. We are aware that flight status systems, including airport screens, are incorrectly showing flights on time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Bet they wish they hadn’t, in their arrogance, severed many of their interline agreements today. Or at least their passengers do.

  2. I’ll bet they REALLY regret severing their interline agreements in times like these. Very stupid of Delta.

  3. Apparently in all of their operational awesomeness, they neglected to have a back up power supply.

  4. I’m shocked that their critical computer systems don’t have the uninterruptible power systems (UPS) in place to weather a power outage for at least several hours. If I was in charge, I’d expect their head of ITs resignation. This is the kind of obvious risk that you can easily mitigate with conventional planning.

  5. @farnorthtrader – they most certainly do have redundant power at their main ATL data center. At least they did when I worked for Worldspan 16 years ago. I ran the data for and user profiles and my stuff had 3 layers of power redundancy. And that had nothing to do with actual flight/reservation data. If infrastructure for data transfer outside of DL’s control were affected by a power outage then any redundant power at their data center wouldn’t matter much.

  6. If any airline can quickly recover from an IT issue, it would be Delta. Remember, Delta Airlines is always climbing.

  7. This is a good lesson for other IT shops to look long and hard at where a single point of failure may exist. Systems and networks expand so rapidly that it is hard to keep up with what is going on, let alone put together a truly working Disaster Recovery plan. It used to be much easier in the days of the mainframe. Now you have dependencies scattered everywhere.

  8. Now it comes out that this was not a general power outage, but a power outage specifically within Delta’s operations. They kind of intimated that it was somebody else’s fault, but this is all on Delta

  9. Gary have you really flown Delta recently to make the statement that Delta treats their customers badly? I think not! Since I did fly Delta yesterday, I can easily say it was one of my best domestic trips. And, I won’t fly American, because they are plain and simple, a terrible airline and getting worse. And, I own stock in American!

    It is also disingenuous to say that Delta treats its competitors badly. United and American were sending 5 times as many passengers to Delta, than Delta was sending them. United needed Delta to reaccomodate passengers. Why? Because United and Delta offer many of the same international destinations. American felt differently. Or should I say they cheaped out on helping their customers!

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