Delta Air Lines Upends Travelers’ Plans For Third Straight Day

Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE:DAL) is still suffering from the aftermath of its service outage on Monday, upending thousands of travelers’ plans for the third day in a row. After a power outage hit its computer systems, Delta lost the ability to process check-ins and dispatch aircraft. The airline is slowly getting back up to speed.

Another 278 flight cancellations have been added to the more than 1,600 cancellations since Monday. Many of the delays and cancellations issued on Wednesday are the result of displaced flight crews and crews running up against maximum allowed work hours. About 75 percent of the 1,950 flights that departed on Wednesday were within 30 minutes of their scheduled times, according to the airline.

Delta had canceled far fewer flights than rivals in recent years, giving it a reputation of being the best operation in the industry. Chief Executive Ed Bastian apologized in an online video post, saying, “I’m sorry we let you down. We’ll do everything that we can to make certain this does not happen again.” The company has released a statement saying it expects a return to normal operations later this afternoon. The airline reported that 80 percent of its flights departed on time through the first quarter of Wednesday’s schedule.

Delta said systems to its operations critical failed to switch over to a backup source following the power surge and outage on Monday. When the outage first hit, the airline grounded more than 1,000 flights and delayed another 3,000. On Tuesday, Delta canceled another 775 flights and announced further delays. Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said that there has been no indication that the service outage was the result of a hack. The airline is still investigating the cause.

Delta has expanded a change-fee waiver for customers ticketed to travel between Monday and Wednesday. Those passengers can make one change to their itineraries without paying the standard change fee of $200 domestically to as much as $500 for international flights. Rebooked travel must be for flights no later than Aug 21. Delta has reportedly contacted some of its most frequent fliers with pending tickets and offered them seats on the Delta Private Jets subsidiary to reach their destinations.

Delta’s profit for the quarter will most likely be hit by passenger refunds, overtime hours for workers, and other costs. The vulnerability of airlines’ technology infrastructure has been on prominent display in recent months. Automated operations means any single glitch can affect wide swaths of a company’s operations. In July, Southwest Airlines delayed or canceled more than 2,000 flights after an outage hit its computer systems.