How Dangerous Is British Airways’ Operations Control Center?

Filed Under: British Airways, Videos

Over the weekend British Airways had a massive IT meltdown that led to hundreds upon hundreds of cancelations. This was apparently caused by a “power supply issue.” It’s too soon to know what exactly happened, though British Airways’ union was quick to assign the blame on outsourcing.

I had a busy weekend so didn’t keep up with this too much, though I have one burning question that I really need some insights to, having never worked in a corporate environment. On Saturday British Airways’ CEO Alex Cruz delivered a message to customers from their operations control center, sharing what they’re doing to get the problem fixed, etc.

Here’s the video:

Does anyone have the same question I have? What exactly is so dangerous about British Airways’ operations control center that it requires wearing a high visibility vest?

  1. The PR person must have thought it would look important like he was taking the issue at hand reeeeallllly seriously.

    And WTF is a “power-supply issue”? Must be code for something else. They don’t have generators for their servers when the power goes out???

  2. Wow so nicely spotted lol. Maybe I can do this next time I appear on TV without ironing my shirt lol. Genius!

  3. It makes him seem that he is on the ground with the employees and is one with the team. Stupid PR stunt.

  4. How do we know its not a montage of him just standing in a tv-studio infront of i green screen and edited togheter with that background noice?

  5. I read a blog post recently about 2 guys who picked up his visibility vests at Home Depot and wore them everywhere. They got into movies, concerts, football games, etc all for free. Same idea, makes them look important….

  6. How can this happen? Every business of this size should have complete redundancy measures in place. Even if there’s a complete power fault at one site there should be a parallel system ready to take over with no downtime at all, right? Weird.

  7. Yah! You can save money by not ironing your shirt, then the back up plan is put on a shinny vest on TV, hoping no one will notice. You can save even more money by not having a back up plan as well. Money saved, and money well spent else where, investing in the customers in the most direct way. Save money to spent money, makes total economical sense!

  8. have a parallel system costs money. as much as organizations want to have active-active sites, it costs a lot of keep both sites running.

  9. Well, its an IT meltdown. Maybe there’s people running in background with tons of servers, fiberoptics, highly electrical cables or dangerous liquid coolant. Who knows?

  10. The ‘power supply issue’ was actually a power surge. Cruz has finally told the media this news – 2 days after the incident. It probably took so long for BA to admit the issue because their backup system completely failed.

    I wrote about the power surge on Saturday here:

    Unfortunately, the hi-viz jacket was most likely just a PR stunt. I’ve been told that Cruz hasn’t visited Terminal 5 since the disruption began.

  11. Glad to see that cost cutting is working well for BA. I hope every displaced passenger gets the maximum payout. As for that clown Cruz, he and the vest need to go.

  12. Lucky, it’s an “incident management” thing. Most corporations follow incident management protocols developed in police/fire/ems. He wears a high visibility vest that probably says “command” or something on it so anyone can find him easily.

  13. When the CEO issues the non-apology apology, the yellow vest adds gravitas? Or he just came in from loading bags on jumbo jets.

  14. BA was trying to save cash, so they refused to pay the “Fuel Surcharge” that company that they outsourced to fill their generator with diesel fuel…

  15. Blame the Electrician…sure…eh…A scapegoat for the BA Board of Management …pathet-hic..

  16. What should not be lost amongst the humour is the insensitivity of Cruz appropriating a hi-viz vest in the same week that true first responders have had to do so to deal with the carnage in Manchester.

    The man is a total arse and his PR team even greater idiots. This is the man who claims that pax have been demanding to pay for inflight drinks and snacks.

  17. After 32 years in IT system administration, I am sure that anyone above a system administrator, developper or hacker is pretty clueless about how computer systems work.

    We say almost everyday about directors and “C-Level” people, “They can talk the talk but they can’t walk the walk.” BA just got first hand experience in that adage. The photo of Mr. Cruz in the yellow hazard vest is photographic proof that he is clueless about what happened.

  18. I have worked with IT systems outsourced to India. Its absurd and highlights CEOs with no practical technical knowledge. It’s like buying a plane ticket on Ryanair and expect everything to be included in the up front ticket price. Here is a typical conversation with outsourced IT folks. Me: you must do A then B then C in that exact order. They nod their heads at everything you say. Then they do B, C and A. And when you ask them why they did that, their response will be oh you didn’t want that. Follow by no problem I’ll fix. And they’ll repeat the same damn thing. They are the nightmare that keeps on giving.

  19. When he says “power supply issue” does he mean that the cleaner accidentally pulled the wrong plug out?

    (PS, Señor Cruz, the next time I fly on one of your domestic routes I’m going to bring my own M & S sarnies just to spite you.)

  20. “I had a busy weekend so didn’t keep up with this too much” = busy getting ENGAGED am i right? 😉

  21. When he says “power supply issue” does he mean that the cleaner accidentally pulled the wrong plug out?

  22. When most IT systems are striving for 99.99% availability (i.e., the system cannot be down for > 1h per year), BA lets its *main* system remain unavailable for days… I dont understand this.

  23. Well spotted.

    The British Airways’ CEO Alex Cruz delivering a message to customers from their operations control center, while wearing a high visibility vest is just another demonstration of how clueless and completely incompetent British Airways management is. While the IT problem was massive the company’s response to the IT issue was worse than anyone could ever have imagined.

    Cruz should be fired at once and British Airways needs to revauluate what they are doing.

  24. Alex Cruz should find a job more suited to his skill set. How about the manager of a 7 story public toilet in Mumbai?

  25. The high-vis vest is a symbol of the “health and safety” obsession/myopia in the UK. As a Brit, who has now lived in the US for a few years; nothing gets my hackles up as much when I go back to the UK as a man, (sadly always a man), in a high vis vest. It’s a manifestation of the nanny culture in the country. Every problem can be solved, seemingly, by more health and safety regs; invariably manifested by a man in a high vis (aka ugly) vest. It is beyond frustrating. I spend my life between a rock and hard place… Living in, and loving the US, but constantly apologizing for some of the more ‘interesting’ aspects of the country… Likewise in Europe I espouse what makes the US fantastic, and there is plenty. I’m stuck in the mid-Atlantic. What should not be stuck in the mid-Atlantic, and should be banished to purgatory are high visibility jackets/vests and the NIMBY, petty and pedantic people who advocate for them in the UK… Cruz turning up in one to be a “man of the people”/”we’re all in this together” is just a terrible white collar manifestation of the high vis plague, (and FWIW it looks like a green screen). My thoughts are with all those affected, regardless of what turns out to be the root cause; once thing I am sure, high visibility clothing did not prevent or help assuage the problem.

  26. This vest was the only high-visibility thing about Cruz over the whole weekend fiasco.

  27. For a “premium” airline of this size to not have a working backup is beyond ridiculous, its insane.

    I tried to use BA’s app a couple of months ago to checkin. It didnt work, and when i got to the airport, their kiosks also werent working. I had to wait in line for 40 mins to checkin, even though i had no bags. Its unbelievable how far downmarket BA has gone in the last few years. They are in a sad state.

  28. Another explanation is that management is always preaching safety, wearing mandated equipment that is required of ramp or operations personal.

    I have been out on many construction sites with a hard hat with no apparent risk of a head injury, only because it was mandated safety equipment (with steel toe shoes) although I never was a worker.

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