Why USAir is bankrupt, part 3

It's hard to feel very sorry for USAir and the company's financial problems. Yesterday, I saw yet another example of IT stupidity. I got to Charlotte and wanted to catch an earlier flight. The Roanoke flight that was leaving was nearly full, so I had to stand and watch the poor gate agent laboriously hand key every boarding pass into the computer. Fifty boarding passes, each one requiring several keystrokes. And virtually every boarding pass had a bar code on it.

Now Delta has very expensive, custom made scanners that must easily cost $20-30K each (note that Delta is also bankrupt). Southwest, which is making money, has cheap, off the shelf barcode scanners (cost about $50) duct-taped to the side of their cheap off the shelf PC computers. So bankrupt USAir manages their seats by hand, bankrupt Delta buys hideously expensive custom terminals, and profitable Southwest makes good use of off the shelf technology. Get the picture?

But wait, there's more, as they say in the knife infomercials. The USAir agent finally established that there was a seat on the plane for me. By this time, the plane was about to leave. He looks at my ticket and informs me that there will be a $25 charge to change the ticket, and that I have to go to the Special Services desk in the main terminal to take care of it. He then apologizes there is not time to do that, and the plane takes off.

Before leaving, I observe the special, custom keyboard he is using has a card reader on it, but USAir's crack IT department apparently never bothered to give the agent software that would allow him to take customer money.

So we have a bankrupt airline that is not equipped to take money from their customers. Hmmm. Anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

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