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Airline flight booking and search engines crashed for nearly 4 hours on Monday

April 05, 2021
2 min read
Airline flight booking and search engines crashed for nearly 4 hours on Monday
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The engines that power a number of airlines' flight search and booking systems crashed on Monday afternoon, preventing customers from making reservations, and in some cases, even search for flights.

The problem was first reported on Downdetector.com shortly after noon Eastern time, with reports beginning to flood in within minutes. Service appeared to be fully restored shortly before 4 p.m. Eastern.

At least American, Delta, United and Alaska were affected, although it was not immediately clear if other airlines — including international ones — were impacted. The airlines were reportedly also unable to complete ticket sales by phone.

The cause appeared to be linked to an outage on ITA, a back-end system run by Google that some airlines use to manage flights and inventory, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The public-facing portal for ITA was also unable to complete flight searches.

Southwest, JetBlue, Hawaiian, and others did not appear to be affected.

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Some online travel agencies and metasearch sites, including Expedia and Orbitz, appeared to still facilitate searches and reservations on the impacted airlines. However, it was not clear whether displayed prices were accurate, nor whether new flight bookings would be ticketed properly.

Other sites, such as Kayak, would showing flight prices and options, but appeared unable to facilitate new reservations.

Travelers flying Monday were not be affected and could use web and app-based services, including check-in, as normal, according to an airline source.

A Delta spokesperson confirmed in a statement that functionality had been restored later Monday afternoon.

"Delta.com and the Fly Delta app are functioning normally after experiencing an issue this afternoon that made it difficult for customers to purchase flights on delta.com, the Fly Delta app, and through our Reservations Call Center," the statement said. "The issue was caused by the failure of technology provided to Delta and multiple airlines by Google. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused."

A spokesperson for Google similarly confirmed that the issue had been fixed.

"Earlier today, a data error impacted our flight shopping software, which prevented airline partners, as well as Google Flights, from showing fare information," the spokesperson said in a statement. "We’ve implemented a fix and the issue has now been mitigated. We’ll continue to monitor to ensure this is fully resolved."

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees