Thousands of customers of some of the largest airlines on the planet have had their travel plans disrupted by a computer glitch which meant that they could not buy tickets, reserve seats or check in over the internet. Among the airlines affected were Qantas, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Iberia.
The meltdown happened for around three hours on Monday with the Amadeus system. There are four main booking systems used by the airline industry and when one breaks down it causes havoc at a time when carriers expect passengers to streamline their travel itinerary over the internet.
The breakdown has also affected travel agents who have not been able to access tickets on behalf of their clients. Amadeus has not yet given a reason for the failure of its systems, but has told customers that it is sorry if they experienced any undue disruption. It has also apologised to those airlines which have been affected.
Similar systems run by Galileo and Worldspan were not affected by the glitch.
Industry experts have said that it was fortunate that the problem happened during a relatively quiet travel period and that the situation would have been far more serious during a bank holiday, or over the summer.