It crashed

I can’t speak for both of us, but for me setting a target departure date a few days out is infinitely better than the daily trip to the airport and subsequent wait+disappointment. Yesterday we worked out, I read a book, and we went with the kids to dinner and ice skating. To be clear, the grandsons and my son-in-law skated – the rest of us watched. At this point in my life, ice skating is just a quickly broken bone. But it was a good day, and today SIL and I are taking the older grandson to Topgolf.

Southwest Air’s implosion is all over the news – it’s as bad a core service breakdown as I’ve ever seen. Their board needs to replace a few executives. Problem is that there are no quick fixes to what is wrong with them – some of their problems are fundamental to their business model. Their point-to-point route system doesn’t scale well in terms of crew deployment. Hub-and-spoke, which everyone else uses, has its own problems, but at least the major hubs are a place crews can be based and deployed easily.

Looks like SW’s system complexity outran its internal processes for scheduling and routing. Their system, both process-wise and IT-wise, didn’t have enough fault tolerance. So they had a cascading failure, where each subsequent problem spawns more problems, and they got to the point where they couldn’t even tell you the current state of their system – where crews and luggage were at the moment. At that point, operations just aren’t possible.

I may try to contact them and offer my company’s services in righting the ship. We’re expert project managers, and they’re going to need LOTS of that. All they can get. There’s this old IT saying about “rebuilding the airplane in flight” to describe a particularly difficult project. SW will have a lot of that – they have to try and keep operating while fixing things, at some scale, but in their case the airplane is no longer in flight. It crashed.

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