Glitch blamed for delays now fixed, Air Canada says

A system-wide computer outage led to long lines at airports across Canada on Monday, but as of the afternoon Air Canada says things are getting back to normal.

Social media was full of reports of long lines at airports, including those in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary.

In the morning, Air Canada told passengers it is experiencing “an interruption” with the check-in process, and online at

“We apologize for any inconvenience and are working towards restoring our service as quickly as possible,” the airline said on Twitter.

Later in the day, the airline reported that its computer systems had been restored, but added it expects some continued flight delays as it works to clear the backlog caused by the disruption.

Air Canada departures board

The departures board at Vancouver airport shows some of the impact that the computer glitch was having. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

The outage comes two weeks after the airline had a computer issue that disrupted web and mobile check-ins and call centre operations, and temporarily delayed boarding on some flights.

Fred Lazar, an economics professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University, said airlines are plagued by the same problems that many large legacy organizations have right now with their IT infrastructure. Namely, that the core of it is likely several decades old, and from a time that predates the mainstream internet.

“It’s not unusual or unexpected that this has happened,” Lazar said in an interview. “It could get worse over time.”

“There’s this reluctance to basically scrap the old system and develop a new system for the mobile generation,” he said. “The more you add onto the old system the more likely you are going to encounter problems.”

Aviation expert Karl Moore at McGill University in Montreal agrees that IT infrastructure was likely at fault.

“This is a big complex system that works 99 per cent of the time, but we are aware of it because it causes people so much grief,” Moore said in an interview.

“They’ve spent lot of money on IT but these are legacy systems that go back many years,” he said.

“It would cost millions of dollars to replace it.”


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