Question: How many people does it take to cut a data centre’s power leading to travel chaos for 75,000 airline passengers worldwide? Answer: One, according to BA!

Somewhat unbelievably, the recent travel chaos at BA, which lasted over 3 days and affected c75,000 passengers worldwide (and could cost BA over £100m in compensation let alone the brand damage), has been blamed on a single engineer disconnecting a power supply, with the major damage caused by a surge when it was reconnected according to Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG (owners of BA).

Apparently there are big red “panic” buttons to cut all the power in the computer room which are there as a last resort, if there’s a fire or someone’s life is in danger, and it seems one of those might have been activated leading to mistake after mistake as the system was brought back on line (or not).

Allegedly, this is not the first time that there have been incidents with the red buttons, with reports of a builder once hitting the red button with a ladder, and a manager hitting it by mistake, all leading to the buttons being covered by plastic boxes!

This explanation is being viewed by experts with surprise that this could have happened in the first place and also why the back-up systems did not come immediately online?

As one expert put it, ‘it’s like having an international goalkeeper in goal with another international goalkeeper behind him in case the first one misses the ball.’

Others have had the same issue it seems. Last year the US airline, Delta, said it lost $100m after the shutdown of power to its data centre because of an equipment failure, which led to delays with about 2,300 flights being cancelled.

Many years ago I had a cleaner pull a power cable on the core IT system in a business of just 40 people but even then we managed to come back on line within minutes!

Don’t let this happen to you!

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