Friday, March 16, 2012

Being a Fly on the Wall, Or a Plane

Today was a chance to take a break, get some travel out of the way and get myself from San Francisco up to Calgary for the Calgary Perspectives on Software Testing Workshop (POST).

The fun started when I heard news that United and Continental were merging their computer systems this week. I figured "this should be interesting". It definitely became even more interesting when I discovered, after standing in Air Canada's line for a half hour early this morning, that the flight was being serviced by United Express. Meaning I was in the wrong terminal, and had better get a move on over to the Domestic terminal if I wanted to catch my flight.

I hustled on down, and tried to check in at the kiosk, only for the kiosk to tell me my ticket was out of order and that an agent would have to help me. Turns out my order was placed for a paper ticket, even though I processed the whole thing online and had the receipt to prove I was supposed to be getting an e-ticket.

This comedy of errors was resolved and I made my way through security (actually much faster now that I know that stainless steel plates don't set of metal detectors). After making my way to the counter, showing my passport, waiting just a few minutes and then getting on the plane, I figured this was all over... well, not quite.

It seems setting up and merging the two companies (Continental and United) resulted in a rather big amount of software conversion... conversion with limitations. One of the casualties of this conversion was the ability to electronically match the flight manifest with what was stored in the computer. The Flight crew had to do a manual tally of all passengers, and write down and submit this manifest. Not such a big deal on the surface, except that it delayed the flight by about 30 minutes (not a problem for me personally, but I'm sure those making connections in Calgary were none too thrilled).

I'm sure that we'll see something written up about this in the papers at some point, and it will be labeled as a "glitch". Well, no, it's a little more than that; it's a failure of the system's to integrate and there's little in the way of information being shared with the passengers to describe what is happening. I don't mind the errors. Being silent about it is what irritates me.

Still, all's well that ends well. I made it to YYC, a cab took me to my hotel, and I'm just geeking out and focusing on some work until friends come and pick me up for dinner. Looking forward to my time here in Alberta, thanks go out to those who invited me to be here :).
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