Northwest - computer shutdown : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Published Wednesday, March 22, 2000

A long wait Tuesday for many Northwest passengers

David Peterson and Lucy Y. Her / Star Tribune

Elmer Bowers flew out of his hometown of Savannah, Ga., at 11 a.m. Monday, headed for his brother's funeral this morning in Rapid City, S.D. That's called leaving plenty of time for error.

And error was just what he found.

After encountering delays in Atlanta and Cleveland, he finally reached the airport in Minneapolis at 5 p.m. Tuesday, just in time to be caught up in the computer shutdown that was affecting Northwest Airlines flights around the world.

"I walked up to the counter for my 8:15 flight and the lady said, 'I don't know about that one,' " Bowers said. "I told her, 'My brother's funeral is at 10:30 in the morning!'

"When I had cancer and almost died, we made a pact that we'd be at each other's funeral no matter where we lived. My brother's last wish was that I would be his head pallbearer."

People who overheard his story Tuesday advised him to rent a car and hit the road, in what was threatening to turn into a reenactment of the movie "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." As of the time he was interviewed, he did expect to leave on time but said this was the last thing he needed.

Most of those affected by Northwest's computer problems at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport seemed to encounter only brief delays, even when their flights were canceled and they had to rebook. Others, though, spent hours there and some were expecting, as of early evening when they were interviewed, to spend the night at a hotel.

Angie Berlanga of Chicago was flying to Missoula, Mont., for a job interview Tuesday afternoon when the plane turned around after an hour in the air, she said.

It re-landed in Minneapolis at about 1:30 p.m. The computer problem kicked her flight to 8:55 p.m., she said.

"It's inconvenient," Berlanga said. "I'm upset because I had to call everyone and let them know I'll be later, so that makes everything late."

Besides having a fairly busy slate of business travelers, Tuesday was a heavier air travel day than it might otherwise have been, Northwest officials said, because of the start of school spring break, and many people were heading south.

Among them were Dan Plein of Red Wing, Minn., and his kids, Justin, 15, Missy, 11, and Elle, 9. They were heading for Fort Myers, Fla., to take in the Twins spring training camp. Or they thought they were, until they arrived at the airport.

They sat in a tired row, waiting, uncertain of their chances. "The kids have been pretty good ever since I got some pizza in them," Dan Plein said.

Marrion Walsh was coming the other way: returning from Phoenix to her hometown of Fargo, N.D. She arrived about 1 p.m., in plenty of time for a 3 p.m. departure.

"First they said they were delaying it to 3:10. Then they said the computers were down," Walsh said. She said she assumed it was routine and didn't learn until a couple of hours later that the problem was more serious.

"They just left it at that 3:10 delay," she said. "Then at about 5:30 they canceled it." She rebooked and was waiting Tuesday night, expecting to be able to take a flight leaving at 10 p.m.

Dan Malec and Michelle Busch, both of Bozeman, Mont., had been at the airport since 10:30 a.m. They were supposed to board an early afternoon flight for home, but the flight was canceled. They were rescheduled for the 4:55 p.m. flight, but after the computers went down only Malec's name was on that flight. They both decided to wait for the 8:55 p.m. flight to Montana.

Busch said they called friends and family members and had them go to Northwest's Web site, but the site also was down.

"There's some angry people," Malec said. "I think at this point, it's so ridiculous. At the beginning, it was frustrating. And the most frustrating part was the lack of information."

-- - (, March 22, 2000


This post perhaps illustrates why the Y2K problem got blown so far out of porportion -- "filtering" of information by people to fit their own preconceptions. It's labeled as "Northwest -- Computer Shutdown." But, Northwest's computers never shut down and are running just fine. This one has nothing to do with computers, Y2K compliant or not.

I live in Minneapolis, Northwest's hub. I subscribe to the Star Tribune Newspaper, from which this article came. What happened was this. The main fiber optic cable connecting Northwest's operation center here with the rest of the world was cut by a cable installer from a competing telecommunications company. The accident took place some distance from the Northwest facility. The culprit was McLeod Communications, which was installing its own cable. Their workers apparently missed while digging and cut the U.S. West Cable serving Northwest. McLeod says its US West's fault for not properly marking the cable location. US West says they marked the cable just fine, and McLeod's workers are just a bunch of idiots. This is big news here; the TV and paper are filled with pictures of the cut cable, etc.

Interestingly, Norwest was able to operate all but about 100 of its flights using "manual backup"; i.e., telephone lines, off site operation, etc. So much for "cascading cross defaults"; apparently, even in our modern world, it's possible to operate a large airline reasonably efficiently without access to the main computer system.

But, what I find facinating is how a telephone/data cable installation accident found its way to this forum as a computer outage. I suspect that this sort of data filtering is what allowed so many people to isolate themselves from the reality of things and convince themselves and others that TEOTWAWKI was an actual Y2K possibility.

-- E.H Porter (E.H. Porter@Just, March 22, 2000.

Very sad. But not unusual with airline computer systems. Strangely, Northwest have a reputation for reliability . . . as noted here . .

MINNEAPOLIS -- (Feb. 2) -- Northwest Airlines is the "On-Time Airline of the Decade" among the seven U.S. network airlines based on the statistics just released by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Data collected by DOT from 1990 through 1999 show Northwest to have an overall on-time performance of 80.6 percent, more than a full point ahead of the next network carrier.

Also, far from being a Y2K glitch, this particular problem was caused by a sliced network cable. This in itself is quite typical in the busy, hectic and above all "sharp" environment of an airport . .

Sliced cable disrupts Northwest

A sliced fiber-optic line crippled Northwest Airlines' scheduling computers for about 2 1/2 hours Tuesday afternoon, forcing the carrier to cancel scores of flights and causing hours-long delays in others around the world.

It sure is nice to hear about all these little problems which are occurring in everyday life (just as they did last year, and the year before that, etc). Amazing how technical people can always put things right though eh ? {G}

Kind Regards


-- W01v3r1n3 (, March 22, 2000.

There's another thread on this one [or I dreamt about this].

From what I can see on the other thread [or in that dream I had] SOME folks simply don't BELIEVE that this was caused by a cut cable. They feel that this is simply an excuse to cover up the REAL reason for this temporary failure. SHOWING the cut cable doesn't represent proof any more than showing the lights on at rollover represented proof. Wasn't it Ed Yourdon who suggested that generators were keeping the lights on at rollover?

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 22, 2000.

Anita, LOL! To be more specific, Yourdon thought they were using generators to keep the firework displays going....all to cover-up the fact that the power was really OFF. Tee-hee-hee!

Re: airline delays....those have NEVER happened before! NEVER! All flights were ALWAYS on time and on schedule before ....*gasp*...Y2K! LOL!

-- You Gotta (love@those.wacky.doomers), March 22, 2000.


ALL OF YOU. More of the NWO/TPTB distraction.

Its a cover-up.

Notice how the major TV channels never mentioned this? If it wasn't for someone finding that report, no body anywhere would know about this.

They sliced the cable long after the Y2k problem hit while no one was watching.

This was all done because they knew up front that when the problem hit, they would not have to honor the discount tickets or give any frequent flier miles.

More money for "the Owners".

Send for my new absolutely up to date info alert that shows how the Airlines take your money while they work with "the Owners" to pollute the sky with chemtrails.

If you send today, call my secret 900 number or use your decoder ring from your last subscription TODAY ONLY, I will include the latest report on the shocking facts that also so Chemtrails over the NorthEast has lead to the food shortage crisis now known as the Twinkie Scandal. Remember those "unions" they are blaming it on also work for "the Owners".


Paul Paranoia 900-555-1212


XQL-666 on the Decoder Ring

-- cpr (, March 22, 2000.

E.H. Porter and others still wondering how stories like this are posted on Y2K forums.

Hey, just go over to the GICC forum. You'll find many more stories like this.

-- Buddy (, March 22, 2000.

Buddy -- that's why I never go over there. Way boring.

-- E.H. Porter (E.H. Porter@Just, March 22, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ