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Is Delta Airlines anti-gay?


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Assuming the confirmation code really was "H8GAYS," I believe the airline. That said, there is no evidence of the confirmation code (such as a photo of the reservation email containing the code) so I am a little skeptical of the story.

 

Really?

http://boardingarea.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/deltapoints/files/2013/12/H8GAYS-Delta-boarding-pass1.jpg

 

http://boardingarea.com/deltapoints/2013/12/13/deltas-h8gays-pnr-there-are-issues-and-then-there-are-issues/

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Assuming the confirmation code really was "H8GAYS," I believe the airline. That said, there is no evidence of the confirmation code (such as a photo of the reservation email containing the code) so I am a little skeptical of the story.

 

I can believe it happened. I can also believe that the computer code that generated the confirmation code came up with it accidentally. I've written enough code over the years to believe it was a non-hostile fuck up. (It was a fuck up, yes, but I don't assume there was malice behind it.)

 

The computer code (note: no human involvement) has to compose a unique (worldwide) confirmation code using only six characters, and it can only use the digits 0-9 and the letters A-Z. There are only so many combinations available. They should probably do away with H8 as possibilities for the first two characters, but that's a relatively modern thing. (And I'll bet some COBOL programmer now has to modify that 30-year old code, Right Damn Now. I don't envy him/her!)

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Assuming the confirmation code really was "H8GAYS," I believe the airline. That said, there is no evidence of the confirmation code (such as a photo of the reservation email containing the code) so I am a little skeptical of the story.

 

I don't think there is any doubt that it happened.....it really did. The issue is whether it was intentional or not. I suspect it was not intentional. Anyway, deej is right, some programmer in Atlanta is working hard tonight to ensure H8 and GAYS never appear on a boarding pass again.

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Really?

http://boardingarea.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/deltapoints/files/2013/12/H8GAYS-Delta-boarding-pass1.jpg

 

 

http://boardingarea.com/deltapoints/2013/12/13/deltas-h8gays-pnr-there-are-issues-and-then-there-are-issues/

 

Thank you for posting the pic. The story on Huffington Post does not contain a pic nor do the stories linked in the article.

 

As I said in my original post, I believe the airline's explanation that it was an accident. That's what happens when companies don't upgrade their core systems in decades.

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I can believe it happened. I can also believe that the computer code that generated the confirmation code came up with it accidentally. I've written enough code over the years to believe it was a non-hostile fuck up. (It was a fuck up, yes, but I don't assume there was malice behind iist.)

 

The computer code (note: no human involvement) has to compose a unique (worldwide) confirmation code using only six characters, and it can only use the digits 0-9 and the letters A-Z. There are only so many combinations available. They should probably do away with H8 as possibilities for the first two characters, but that's a relatively modern thing. (And I'll bet some COBOL programmer now has to modify that 30-year old code, Right Damn Now. I don't envy him/her!)

 

You really think the underlying program churning out confirmation codes is in COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language)? I never learned that one, but I could brush up on my BASIC, WAT 5 (a version of FORTRAN), and PASCAL if necessary.

 

 

Gman

Gman

 

In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, Beware my power, The Great Gazoo is always right!!!!

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Two thoughts:

 

That's an inter-airline code so that every airline uses these 6-digit codes on their tickets. So it's the error if the ticketing consortium's programming bit specifically Delta's.

 

I have family milt working with Delta. The airline knows 50% of their flight attendants are gay. The airline along with the union design gay friendly benefits for their audience of gay employees.

“The most progressive thing about Joe Biden is his dementia” - Braeden Sorbo

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The computer code (note: no human involvement) has to compose a unique (worldwide) confirmation code using only six characters, and it can only use the digits 0-9 and the letters A-Z. There are only so many combinations available. They should probably do away with H8 as possibilities for the first two characters, but that's a relatively modern thing. (And I'll bet some COBOL programmer now has to modify that 30-year old code, Right Damn Now. I don't envy him/her!)

 

Exactly. Also, from the confirmation codes I've seen, I'm guessing that there can be a max of 1-2 digits in the confirmation code, which leave the number of possible codes around 120 billion according to a back of the envelope calculations. While this particular code may seem unlikely, it's just one of many offensive codes, like "IH8USA" or "GAYH8R". There are probably others we didn't even think of.

 

I'm guessing that Delta will ban "H8" anywhere in the code to eliminate the options above. And like Deej said, people rarely used "H8" to stand for "hate" until texting became widespread. So it's understandable that they didn't anticipate this. Having done some Perl programming with regular expressions , I know how tricky it is to eliminate such possibilities without causing new bugs.

I've looked at life from both sides now

From win and lose and still somehow

It's life's illusions I recall

I really don't know life at all

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You really think the underlying program churning out confirmation codes is in COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language)?

 

I'd bet on it. We all interact with airline (and Travelocity, etc.) websites these days, but deep in the bowels it's all old mainframes that do all the work.

 

Exactly. Also, from the confirmation codes I've seen, I'm guessing that there can be a max of 1-2 digits in the confirmation code. That further decreases the number of possibilities.

 

BTW, the programmer also has to get rid of "H8" as options for any digits. Think of the anger "IH8USA" would cause. Having done some Perl programming with regular expressions, I know how tricky it is to eliminate such possibilities without causing new bugs.

 

Yep. This isn't the first "bad" generated code news story we've seen over the years, and it won't be the last. People keep coming up with new things to get their panties in a twist over.

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Raises the interesting point: Wonder if the program already contains an index of Dirty Words to avoid, to which GAYS (also of course FAGS if not already there) simply need be appended?

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler. If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" Einstein

 

"The Universe is not only queerer than we imagine; it is queerer than we can imagine." J.B.S. Haldane

 

"If the idea is not at first absurd, then there is no hope for it." Einstein

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Raises the interesting point: Wonder if the program already contains an index of Dirty Words to avoid, to which GAYS (also of course FAGS if not already there) simply need be appended?

 

I'm guessing that a 4 or 5-letter word turned up on a confirmation code soon after the system came into use, which then triggered a banned list. (Otherwise, I'm sure we would have seen one on Twitter.) The list was probably made up in 10 minutes by some marketing person and given to the programmer.

I've looked at life from both sides now

From win and lose and still somehow

It's life's illusions I recall

I really don't know life at all

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I worked on a system that involved entering user comments. We had a list of words that we'd automatically ban, and I'm starting to get the impression that this list (about 450 words) has been passed around different companies forever. There are some real howlers on there. About 20 different spellings for 'vagina', and I now know how to say 'penis' in Arabic. But no matter how many ways you enter it, someone will put one more 'i' in sh*t, and get past your filter.

 

I have no trouble believing this is still in Cobol. Not too many years ago I was talking with a flight attendant friend who showed me how he went about requesting days off. The printouts he had looked like they came from the 60's.

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Great moments in airline confirmation codes

Xeni Jardin at 2:01 pm Wed, Jun 20, 2007

BoingBoing

 

http://boingboing.net/images/cuntttt.jpg

 

BoingBoing reader Pete Mortensen says,

My co-worker Isabel O'Meara booked a flight on Southwest a week ago and ended up with the most inappropriate confirmation code ever. It's CUNNTT. Swear to god. I've seen it in person. And she just blogged it, with a scan of the receipt in question here. Amazing customer service. Amazing.

Glenn Fleishman says,

The CUNNTT code reminded me of an anecdote from Nathaniel Borenstein's wonderful, out-of-print book
. In it (I paraphrase from memory), he notes how a system that he was working on that generated random sequences of letters for some file data was producing dirty words that some executives were unhappy with. A group of developers are in a conference room, thinking about generating lists of dirty words and so forth when a snot-nosed intern says, "drop the vowels, use base 30 [10 numbers plus 20 letters], and you're all set."

 

Rizo says,

I used to work for a game company that made kids games for Nintendo DS. We had a cheat code system that used alpha-numeric characters, and these codes would randomly generate after each level you passed. The publisher complained that it was possible to get cuss words as codes at times. We did the math and figured that the chances of getting a cuss word was about one in one BILLION, but in the eyes of the publisher this was too risky. So, we ended up replacing all vowels with happy faces and such. It wasn't a big deal, but it just amazed me how sensitive the game industry has gotten since the coffee-mod fiasco.

 

Ríona MacNamara says,

Unfortunately you can't see it clearly, but Cancun's airport code is CUN, and this is a photo of an airport vehicle painted with the code CUNT5:
.

 

Keith Blackwell says,

Back in the day... early 90's, before the interwebs was really popular, I was a travel agent, using Sabre, which is/was (I'm not sure now) American Airlines' reservation system. Those confirmation codes are more commonly known, in the industry, as record locators. Pretty much anyone on the system could retrieve anybody's record by record locator. When I was bored, I would pull up random record locators, by typing in words of the correct length (I believe they were 6 or 8 chars long) Doing this, I found a number of records in which American Airlines employees would chat in the comments fields. I joined them and made some friends that way. The way it works is you would add some comments to the bottom of a record. Then you save the record, and others would add their comments. Unfortunately, if you put your comments in there, but someone else saved before you did, you would lose your changes and get a "SIMULTANEOUS CHANGES" alert. You would then reload it to see whatever changes someone else had added. It was kind of like having a shared text file. I also found a number of records where the American Airlines employees recorded the bizarre behavior of passengers and stuff. It was a good, fun way to kill time before the advent of email and internet. Back in the olde tyme Fax era.

Mike Ransom says,

I work as a programmer on an airline reservation system. There is a "dirty words" list that automatically blocks most of those insulting "PNR locators" whick contain rude words. It's obvious why this one got by, since the bad word is misspelled.

 

Gary says,

Your post reminded me of the Yamaha RY9 drum machine: It had a simple display, only five characters available for text descriptions of sounds, patterns etc. Some of the sounds were for simple metronome like duties and were called Count1, Count2 etc. I think you can guess which letter Yamaha in their infinite wisdom dropped...

Just google'd it, the manual (with sounds listed in the appendix) is available here:
.

 

David Lindsey says,

Maybe not as good as that, but I had an AOL cd once which had the activation code: "cloaca-market". They used to use (they may still) word pairs pull from the dictionary, apparently.

 

Kim Moser says,

Back in 2003 I made a reservation over the phone with a very friendly Delta Airlines reservation agent who had a strong Jamaican accent. I give her my details, reserved a flight, and she read me my confirmation number very clearly: "RNIGGR." Needless to say, I didn't repeat it for confirmation.

 

Vern Stoltz says,

Back in 1988, I was taking a System Admin course for Prime Computers (remember them?) The lady who sat next to me was a very outspoken, funny, and very fat woman. At one point the instructor was showing us the automatic password generator - he walked out the room for a moment, and us students were amusing ourselves, generating random words.

 

At one point, the woman next to me started laughing hysterically. I looked over, and saw the password that had been generated for her.

 

The password was 'FAT'

 

She composed herself to normal, and had lots of fun complaining to the the instructor about how their computers had personally insulted her.

 

Paul TS Lee says,

Your post reminded me of a the hoops we had to go through to deal with obscene/naughty words in the spell checker of a now defunct word processor app. There were two real-world scenarios our team heard about: First, a high school principal who misspelled "high school principal" in a school newsletter and got the suggestion "asshole principal"; second, a young girl named Ashley, whose own name was not in our dictionary and so the spell checker suggested "Asshole". Both the principal and Ashley's parents sent irate comments to our support staff.

 

As we were working on a major rev of the product, we decided to tackle this issue. The first first solution was to just remove all the "bad" words from the main dictionaries. Of course, this meant that a document with correctly spelled obscene words (we envisioned Norman Mailer using our product) would have all of those flagged, which was deemed a poor alternative result, not to mention potentially forcing our users to fill their custom dictionaries with all those words. After much thought and debated, we finally decided on tweaking the spell checker code so that we could give it a list of words that it would never offer as suggestions. Therefore, the spell checker would properly ignore "asshole" as being correctly spelled, while "ashole/asshol/Ashley" would be flagged as as misspellings, but the suggestions would never include "asshole" itself.

 

After congratulating ourselves on solving the problem, we suddenly realized that we had to create the "correctly spelled obscenity" list, which were sent around the internal email system for review for completeness, appropriateness and much amusement. We had to decide whether words like "asswipe" or "shitfaced" should be included, or does the program only know the hyphenated versions. We had to deal with transatlantic slang: "fanny" and "bloody" in the UK vs. "fag" and "pissed" in the US. Then, our poor, internationalization team had to create localized lists of "bad" words for the 14 Roman based languages (including the two main variants each of Portuguese and Spanish).

 

I wonder if the airlines people didn't have an inkling of the how much work it'd take to avoid generating "CUNNTT" and decided that it was much easier (and cheaper) to apologize to offended passengers (and maybe offer a voucher).

 

 

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler. If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" Einstein

 

"The Universe is not only queerer than we imagine; it is queerer than we can imagine." J.B.S. Haldane

 

"If the idea is not at first absurd, then there is no hope for it." Einstein

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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) lists corporations that provide the same benefits to same-sex partners as they do to straight couples. I don't recall where Delta Air Lines ranks on this, but American Airlines and Bank of America rank at the top. In a recent publication, HRC singled out Exxon-Mobil as one of the worst offenders, and I believe that Exxon-Mobil has altered its policy. I'm sure that if Delta did this on purpose, we'd know about it.

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Delta spends a tremendous amount of resources in support of the gay community in their hub/focus cities (ATL, JFK, MSP, DTW, SLC, ect) particularly in support of pride organizations, so as the others have stated, I think it unlikely this is malicious.

 

Beethoven's post made me wonder where the major airlines fall within HRC corporate ratings. You can check out any number of companies here: http://www.hrc.org/apps/buyersguide/index . Best score is 100. Seems United is at the bottom of every survey, lately.

 

American Airlines = 100

Delta Airlines = 90

US Air = 90

Southwest Airlines = 90

Virgin America = 90

United Airlines = 80

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Great moments in airline confirmation codes

Glenn Fleishman says,

The CUNNTT code reminded me of an anecdote from Nathaniel Borenstein's wonderful, out-of-print book
. In it (I paraphrase from memory), he notes how a system that he was working on that generated random sequences of letters for some file data was producing dirty words that some executives were unhappy with. A group of developers are in a conference room, thinking about generating lists of dirty words and so forth when a snot-nosed intern says, "drop the vowels, use base 30 [10 numbers plus 20 letters], and you're all set."

 

Except when you're not.

FCKNGR

FCKWMN

FKMERI (F*** America)

FGSSHT (F*gs [are] sh*t]

 

His suggestion is a good start, but they will also need a list of all offensive words with the vowels taken out.

I've looked at life from both sides now

From win and lose and still somehow

It's life's illusions I recall

I really don't know life at all

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