Bad day for Alaska Airlines

We all know how irritating it is when our the internet signal goes down in our home or office.

Magnify that feeling times a bazillion and you probably won’t be anywhere near what Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and their customers across the country had to deal with when the the connection to the ticketing system was lost at around 7:30 a.m. PT on Monday morning due what turned out to be two severed fiber optic lines in the Sprint network.

Sprint provides the airlines with connectivity to SABRE, the system the carriers use for reservations, to check in passengers and to purchase tickets,” the airline explained.

It took a while to figure that out, but right away what that meant for travelers at more than 60 airports – especially Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where about half the flights are on those airlines – was long lines, hours of waiting, flight delays, cancellation and more waiting as airline staff tried to figure out what they could get done by hand.

Here are some of the photos Sandy Ward, from the Future of Flight sent from her vantage point this morning at Sea-Tac airport:

Manual ticketing was the order of the day. Anyone remember the days when the airlines had little stickers that represented your seat assignments?

There was one upside of the Alaska Airlines internet outage: because no one could check in for their flights, there was a short line at the security checkpoint.

Alaska Airlines said its internet service was restored by early afternoon, but the damage had already been done: as of noon, Alaska and Horizon had already canceled 70 flights and disrupted the travel day of more than 6,000 passengers. And, the airline said, although more than 130 flights had departed by noon, some of those flights were up to four hours late.

It’s understandable that travelers are upset. Especially those who missed important connections, meetings and social events and those who stood around for hours without accurate information about what was going on.

Alaska Airlines says it’s going to try to make it up to them. On the Sprint Network Outage page on its website, the airline is offering to waive change fees for those with tickets for travel on October 8th and 9th. And in an apology to travelers, the airline is encouraging those whose plans were significantly disrupted to get in touch with the Customer Care Team where, we might assume, some reparations will be made.

Let’s hope thing get back to normal on Tuesday.