ad info

TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

TIME Asia Asiaweek Asia Now TIME Asia story


Who's Afraid of the Millennium Bug?

Illustration for TIME by Sara Fanelli

If you plan to be airborne as the millennium rolls in, here's the good news: your plane isn't going to drop out of the sky. The aviation industry has gone to some lengths to fix the Y2K bug and keep us all aloft. Now for the bad news: once the wheels hit the ground, you could be in for serious hassles--lost baggage, delayed connections and many other non-fatal nuisances.

The Y2K bug began to bite into travelers' plans as early as October, when airlines started canceling flights. Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines dropped 129 millennium-straddling flights from a schedule of 994, citing lack of demand. United Airlines canceled 15 of its two dozen Y2K flights to and from Japan, also because of a shortfall of customers. Decreased demand was ascribed to the likelihood that most people want to be on the ground celebrating the new century instead of aloft complaining about lack of legroom. Some travelers are also frightened, no doubt, by the uncertainty that surrounds Y2K. The Japan Travel Bureau, the country's largest travel agency, announced in July that it wouldn't be selling tours that included Dec. 31 flights because of fears of technical problems.

Who's Afraid of the Millennium Bug?
If you plan to be airborne as the millennium rolls in, here's the good news: your plane isn't going to drop out of the sky

For many people, Taiwan means industry and business. But two-thirds of the island is covered with forested peaks

Web Crawling
A new site featuring executive survival guides for major Asian cities

Off the Shelf
The art of eating one's way around the globe

If you do find yourself at 10,000 m when the clock ticks over, what can you expect? Not much, according to the experts. "Y2K is an inconvenience issue, not a safety issue," says Sean Debow, associate director of Warburg Dillon Read in Hong Kong, who conducted a Y2K-readiness survey of nearly 500 companies in Asia. Boeing and Airbus, the world's two largest aircraft manufacturers, vouch for the preparedness of their aircraft. Pilots, too, sound sure of their planes. "I wouldn't be flying if I thought it was unsafe," says a Cathay Pacific pilot who says he will be in the cockpit on the big night.

Experts predict Y2K will lead to delays on the ground at some airports and may cause flights to be diverted from certain destinations that are less Y2K-ready. "It's the airports that have a question mark," says Jim Eckes, managing director of Indoswiss Aviation. He and other analysts will closely watch air corridors served by older air-traffic control systems--for example, those in the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Russia and parts of Eastern Europe. Some airlines, such as Royal Jordanian, have canceled flights into New Delhi and Karachi to avoid the possibility of problems in those cities.

But even if antiquated air-traffic control systems do fail, pilots can still communicate with control towers by satellite phones and high-frequency radios. Pilots are trained to fly "blind" (without the help of radar), charting their course the way early aviators did. To be on the safe side, the aviation industry has agreed to increase the distance between aircraft flying on the same course that day, from the standard 10 minutes to 15 minutes. The flurry of flight cancellations will reduce the number of planes in the air anyway, making the situation easier to manage.

Major airports in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei are reporting 100% Y2K readiness, but even they are hedging their bets. Authorities at Hong Kong International Airport say that travelers might experience delays and baggage mix-ups. If a glitch occurs in Chek Lap Kok's automated baggage system--which handles as many as 88,000 bags a day--much of the job will have to be done by hand, and serious logjams could occur. So if you plan to fly on Dec. 31, build some flexibility into your itinerary, and expect long delays. It's also a good idea to check with your carrier for scheduling changes and travel with just carry-on luggage if you can get away with it. There's no need to bring a parachute, but a good book will probably help.

Travel Watch Archive | TIME Asia Home
ASIANOW Travel Home


Quick Scroll: More stories from TIME Travel Watch


U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.