Plan on Traveling for the Holidays? Don’t Count on the FAA Website for Updates!

Yesterday we talked about the importance of a website monitoring service to let you know when your website goes down. It seems as though the FAA should have taken our advice. With travelers around the United States relying on the FAA to provide them with updates regarding their flights, the FAA website went down for the count the day before Thanksgiving. While the website is now back up and running, the FAA seems unconcerned about the untimely site outage.

FAA’s Flight Tracker Crashes When It’s Needed Most

It’s a fact of life… People travel when the holidays roll around. We all know that flights are rarely on time. Delays are common – especially when traveling through major airports. It’s important to know when a flight is on time or when it’s been delayed. The information can mean the difference between making your flight or missing it. Nowadays a missed flight means paying high fees to get on another one. Not knowing if you’re going to make your flight can be very costly. It can also be frustrating for people who are waiting to pick up travelers coming in on flights. Not knowing if a flight is delayed can mean waiting unnecessarily at the airport for hours. Unfortunately, the FAA’s Flight Tracker website wasn’t there to be giving travelers (and those who were picking travelers up) the information they needed when they needed it the most.

The World Wide Web Was Abuzz

The site outage of the FAA’s Flight Tracker didn’t go unnoticed. Not a surprising fact considering that this is one of the busiest times of year for airlines. As one Twitter member Paul Konrad tweeted, “FAA Website still down...Significant delays likely for O'Hare and Midway. Visibility at O'Hare at 1/8 mile.” It seems that travelers were left to find other ways to get the information they needed, such as contacting the airlines directly or making guesses as Mr. Konrad was doing based on weather conditions.

FAA Not Concerned

You’d think that the FAA would be concerned about the Flight Tracker outage that so many travelers rely on. It appears that they were not. The FAA’s Flight Tracker site is the top site you see when you do an Internet search for “flight delays”. There are, however, other websites that track delays and travelers must turn to these sites in the event that the FAA’s Flight Tracker is down or they can, if necessary, contact the airlines directly as mentioned above. Regardless, it would be nice to think that any website outage would be of concern to the organization running the site. This was not the case with the FAA site outage.

Chris Oswald, Vice President of Safety and Technical Operations for the Airports Council International-North America seemed to think that the site outage wasn’t that big of a deal since the FAA’s Flight Tracker is used by the public and not for airport operational decisions. He himself said that travelers should not rely on the site and should always contact airlines directly. Not a very reassuring statement for travelers this holiday season.

Don’t Be Like the FAA

While the FAA might not heed the advice given by us here at Alertra, they are a governmental organization and the public is somewhat at their mercy. While travelers can choose one of the other flight trackers available on the Web, the FAA uses their site as a courtesy to travelers and has nothing to lose by losing site visitors. For most of us, this isn’t the case. Most websites have everything to lose when it comes to unhappy customers and, even worse, the loss of those customers.

Don’t be like the FAA. Ignoring or not even caring about site downtime is not good practice. Make sure you know if your site is down. If you’re an Alertra customer, you’ll immediately know about any site outages. Once you receive an alert from us, you can then go about taking the measures necessary to communicate with your customers and get your site back up and running.