At approximately 0640 AEDT today, Qantas Airways staff worldwide discovered that they could no longer print passenger boarding passes, according to an article in the Melbourne Herald Sun. They also discovered that the airline's self-serve kiosks were not printing out boarding passes, either.
As a result, Qantas check-in staff were forced to write out airplane boarding passes by hand. In addition, the airline sent messages to customers asking them to print out their boarding passes at home or send their boarding passes to their smart phones if at all possible.
Needless to say, Qantas passengers this morning were very unhappy about the resulting long check-in lines and delayed flights. Exacerbating their unhappiness was that Qantas has not exactly been popular in Australia since the airline shut itself down without warning a few weeks ago, and many departing passengers perceived this glitch as yet another poke in their eye.
As it turned out, glitch was quickly traced to a problem in the Amadeus reservation system that Qantas and dozens of other airlines use. Not only was Qantas affected by the print error, but so were British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa, The Australian reported. The impacts on these other airlines was luckily minimized given that the glitch happened early in the morning AEDT and not during their morning departing rush European time.
At about 0900 AEDT, the problem was resolved and things slowly returned to normal. An Amadeus spokesperson was quoted in a later Sydney Morning Herald story as saying:
"Amadeus can confirm that the issues related to printing of boarding passes from our departure control system experienced this morning have now been fully resolved."
"We are currently investigating the cause of the issue that occurred today and regret any inconvenience caused to our customers. We remain committed to providing the industry's leading information technology services that support many airlines around the world."
This is the fourth reservation-related problem that Qantas has experienced since it rolled out its Amadeus Altea Departure Control-Flight Management system in 2008 (see here, here, and here).
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.