Airlines soar over first Y2K challenge

Even though the big day is 11 months away, its ramifications are already being felt. Last Thursday was a critical Y2K test for the airline industry, as companies started to book flights for January 1, 2000. Ticket agents undoubtedly winced as they typed the fateful “01/01/2000″ into their terminals, but–nothing happened– nothing bad, that is.

Popular flight reservation systems like Sabre and Galileo are only capable of making reservations up to 330 days in advance. As a result, February 4 was the first day it was possible for a ticket agent to book your millennium flight and see if the system would function properly. It did.

Airlines have been at the forefront of Y2K readiness, for obvious reasons. With their massive dependence on computers for everything from tickets and special meals to actual flight control, airlines simply have no room for any sort of Y2K glitch next year. The success of last week’s first Y2K test shows their efforts have been fruitful.

Of course, there is another approach. News reports last week noted that China has come up with an elegantly simple solution to the Y2K problem for airlines: all senior airline executives must be airborne duringhe transition to the new millennium.