This week — at the height of the travel season — Delta Airlines had to cancel more than 2000 flights and upset the plans of hundreds of thousands of passengers. When a computer failed, backups didn't kick in, and an IT system of awesome complexity multiplied disruptions all over the world. Delta struggled to limit the passenger backlash, but on Monday alone, Twitter conversations involving the airline skyrocketed from a daily average of 3,600 to 43,000.
In the past few months, United-Continental, US Airways, Alaska Air and Southwest have all been hit by similar problems, one that's all too common as airlines upgrade their networks but don't have the luxury of days off to test for problems. That's made for a lot of expensive surprises. We hear from experts who say it's inevitable there will be more to come, and hear tips about what passengers can do.