Report of an actual 9s problem being caught just in time. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I spoke with my husband by phone tonight and he related something that had surprised him. Like most consultants, he did not think the 9s issue was of any real import.

One of the people he works with (let's call him Sam for convenience) had just flown in last night. While Sam was waiting at the airline gate, nobody else was around so he struck up a conversation with the airline employee at the ticket counter. After chatting for awhile Sam asked the guy why he seemed rather "down"..."Business bad? Problems at home?" (Sam is a very congenial guy and easy to talk to.)

The reply was that he was nervous about the 9s problem and it was getting closer to midnight. I guess this really peaked Sam's curiosity and he got the info that they (the airline's IT people) had just done a 9s test last month and the whole reservation system had crashed - everything stopped working. And the employees did not know if they had managed to get it fixed by last night. I don't have any details, but it seems that the reservation system was a legacy of or somehow tied into the old Sabre mainframe system.

The good news is that the system stayed up. But both Sam and my husband were quite fascinated that an actual 9's problem had apparently been discovered. Also that it hadn't been found until so recently. I realize this information cannot be confirmed, but I thought others might be interested, too, even so.

-- Bonnie Camp (, September 10, 1999



Thanks for this bit as well as the primer on chaos theory. Do you know the name of the airline?

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, September 10, 1999.

A primer on chaos theory (ears perked up)? Is it available on the web somewhere?

-- robert waldrop (, September 10, 1999.


Bonnie's primer on chaos theory is on this thread:

-- Linkmeister (, September 10, 1999.

FWIW, Continental's online web-based reservation and flight booking system was apparently unavailable all day yesterday. First time in a couple years of service, and at least as of yesterday AM their customer support line was stumped.

-- Spanky (spamfree@spamno.more), September 10, 1999.


American Airlines computer system is called Sabre.

-- Cary Mc from Tx (, September 10, 1999.

Heard of one 9's problem: Some UNIX boxes compress the leading zero out of the date. In order to fix this, the dates have to be pulled into text mode and the zero inserted. However, the fellow who told me this didn't have any trouble yesterday.

-- helen (, September 10, 1999.

Thanks, Bonnie.

-- Lane Core Jr. (, September 10, 1999.

Yes, ditto on the thank you, Bonnie.

Hopefully *most* the potential showstoppers can "get caught" in time. As long as the electricity keeps flowing, in all parts of the globe.

Then again, the fix-it landscape may change, next year, especially in those areas experiencing brownouts and blackouts.

Duration... that IS a planet-wide question to contemplate.


-- Diane J. Squire (, September 10, 1999.

Stan, I wasn't going to give the airline name but since there have been other reports referencing airline reservations problems and this company managed to beat theirs -- it was US AIR.

Robert, the quick primer I posted which was cross referenced here by Critt (Thanks, Linkmeister for helping me out! ) was in response to some reader confusion over a more mathematically inclined post. It's the very basics with Y2K referencing. For a more complete primer go to:

-- Bonnie Camp (, September 10, 1999.

Bonnie, I would suggest that vurther verification be made of this story before concluding it as factual, right now it's a rumor. Contacting US Airways for verification would seem prudent. An airline ticket employee might be a good source for ticket information, but for Y2K/9's problem testing, I would look a little further.

Here's my 9's problem story. I heard from an engineer that one of our nuclear plants Plant Computer System crashed shortly after midnight on 9/9/1999! A reliable source - let's stop there and post! But wait, there's more - a SECOND engineer told me the same thing! A second source - NOW lets really post this, it has to be true!

One minor problem though, the second engineer said the problem occurred at a DIFFERENT plant than the first engineer had said. I checked it out, neither plant had experienced such a problem. One of them had been involved in the NERC drill, but no loss of the Plant Computer System, and their part of the drill went fine.

Maybe your airline ticket agent is more reliable than the engineers I talked to, maybe the rumor mill works better at US Airways, but I just wouldn't assume it....


-- FactFinder (, September 11, 1999.

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