Airlines’ websites and apps often fail. Yet 84 percent of American travelers may rely on them during the travel process

January 26, 2018

by Joseph George

You can’t check in for your flight on the airline’s app. The website won’t let you buy the plane ticket you wanted. The app can’t tell you whether your flight is on time.

Unfortunately, technology glitches and outages like these are all too common. In 2017 alone, there were six major U.S.-based airline outages caused by IT failures. We all rely on services that make our lives easier, often seamlessly. But all of them depend on IT, and IT can—and often does—fail.

blog-harris-poll-airlines-1.jpgThat’s an issue with severe consequences for airlines, especially since 84 percent of American travelers in a recent survey say they use an airline’s website or mobile app during the travel process.

The survey of over 2,000 Americans ages 18 and older who have traveled by airplane (defined as travelers), conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Sungard

AS, found many travelers use technology at every step of the way, from booking to checking flight status:

  • 47 percent say they typically check in for upcoming flights through an airline’s website or mobile app
  • More than half (55 percent) say they use an airline’s website and/or mobile app the day of their flight, before they reach the airport
  • Over 3 in 5 (63 percent) say they check their flight status through an airline’s website or mobile app
  • Of Americans who have booked an airplane ticket, nearly half (48 percent) typically do so through an airline’s website

blog-harris-poll-airlines-2.jpgWith so many travelers potentially relying on these mobile/website services, even a short disruption can lead to frustrated customers posting on social media, potential impact to flights from check-in delays and, in the long run, lost business. As more travelers come to depend on airlines’ apps and websites to book flights, check in and stay updated on flight status, there’s even less room for error.

It underscores the need for resiliency, especially in consumer-facing applications. The more critical the system, the more important it is to have multiple plans in place. What happens if Plan A and Plan B both fail?

Disaster recovery planning is crucial in enabling organizations to recover quickly and limit business impact from outages. Airlines can avoid major disruptions by creating tiers to designate the apps most critical to their business so they’re recovered first. They also need to understand and manage application dependencies.

blog-harris-poll-airlines-3.jpgThe key to managing the business impact of an outage is preparation and planning. If you think your organization is vulnerable to these kinds of outages, answer this list of questions I created that’ll show how well prepared you are to keep your business running.

Sungard AS Survey Methodology:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Sungard AS from November 15-17, 2017 among 2,282 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 2,040 have traveled by airplane. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Sungard Availability Services at

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